Hospice fined $50,000 - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Hospice fined $50,000

Stolen laptop contained patient information

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Posted: Friday, December 28, 2012 12:00 am

HAYDEN - Hospice of North Idaho settled with the federal government and agreed to pay $50,000 because of a stolen laptop it lost containing patient information.

Hospice settled with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services'office of civil rights, which will receive the funds. Hospice reported the theft to the office as required by law, and conducted an internal investigation.

In a news release Thursday, Hospice said there is no evidence that patient information was accessed following the theft.

Amanda Miller, a Hospice spokeswoman, said employees bring laptops to patients' homes.

"In the summer of 2010, an employee's vehicle was broken into, and their laptop was stolen," she said. "While the thief was apprehended, the laptop was never recovered, hence all the steps Hospice of North Idaho took in case of malicious activity."

Miller said the $50,000 will be coming out of Hospice's operational budget.

"As an organization, we have looked at our current operations and found ways to save money," she said.

For example, Hospice recently consolidated two office spaces into one, a move that will save it about $30,000 in 2013, she said.

Patients who could have been affected were identified, contacted, and offered credit monitoring, and families of deceased patients were offered family support through the assignment of a personal recovery advocate, Hospice said.

Hospice has hired industry experts in the areas of information technology and human resources, replacing the outsourced services employed during the time of the laptop theft.

It has increased security measures on all equipment containing patient information and adopted stronger security policies and procedures to better protect patient information.

Hospice is in compliance with all federal regulations and is conducting ongoing education and training of staff on a regular basis.

"All health-care agencies, including nonprofit agencies, are accountable to the same regulations," said Hospice of North Idaho vice president Kim Ransier.

Hospice said the settlement amount is significantly less than the standard penalties imposed.

"The theft of the laptop was out of our hands, but the measures we have taken since then to ensure the security and privacy of our patients' information have been numerous," said Brenda Wild, Hospice of North Idaho board president. "We take this incident very seriously."

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  • flattopramen posted at 1:12 pm on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    flattopramen Posts: 140

    Wouldn't you want any medical practice to be held accountable for the safety of their customers info?

    I understand the rub as they are supposedly kind of non profit and they have an important responsibility to the community. They help people die comfortably.

    Hope they have a payment plan...

  • gonefishin posted at 12:17 pm on Wed, Jan 2, 2013.

    gonefishin Posts: 30

    Everything you said is either misleading or patently false. I'd encourage anyone reading this to do your own research on any organization, and talk to the families whose loved ones received care, rather than listen to some clown making unsubstantiated, slanderous claims on the internet.

  • capnbutch posted at 6:50 am on Sat, Dec 29, 2012.

    capnbutch Posts: 729

    We'd sure like to see a better story on this. Allegedly, courts do not behave in quite this way. Perhaps there was a specific prior agreement?

    As it is, the whole thing seems irrational.

  • Kyle posted at 1:17 am on Sat, Dec 29, 2012.

    Kyle Posts: 1

    Thank you. You are so right. I will go further and say that people REALLY need to check them out. They have more than a handsome cash flow.
    Continue to watch the news more will be revealed and it won't be problems that came about by accident.

  • DeNiles posted at 12:00 pm on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    Please keep in mind that HONI is NOT entirely supported by donations. It charges for its services the same as any for-profit hospice and at the same rate. If their patient has Medicare, Medicaid or any form of insurance HONI bills the same as any business. And they get paid for well over 90% of their business.

    HONI merely operates as a non-profit type of business. They run a handsome cash flow and they thrive on making the community feel as though they have to have donations to provide any care. Nope. The new HONI House facility was essentially a hospital built for a private business using donations. You paid to build HONI a hospital and they in-turn charge the gov't full price for all of their hospice services...... and they can and do, charge more for in-patient care. That's one reason why they wanted HONI House.

    They're a pretty business savvy over at HONI. Feel free to support them - just be informed. Ask them to see their books. And if you are not happy with the services from HONI you have many other options here locally. And if the patient has Medicare (and most do have Medicare) they will not get charged any differently.

    Carry on.

  • localopinion posted at 10:48 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    localopinion Posts: 44

    Seems like the Department of Health and Human services is the real thief!

  • heatherfeather posted at 9:43 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    heatherfeather Posts: 297

    They have to pay back that debt to China somehow!

  • heatherfeather posted at 9:42 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    heatherfeather Posts: 297

    What did the thief get? $500 fine and 30 days (suspended)?

    Hospice should go back to putting the information on paper in manilla envelopes. Shelves of it. A lot harder to steal. Of course, the incompetent federal government-in-name only likely requires the information be stored on easily stolen laptops so they can levy their fines.

  • Keven Johnson posted at 9:16 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    Keven Johnson Posts: 1476

    How many people could this fantastic organization help with that $50,000? And now it's going to the black hole that is our corrupt, bloated federal bureaucracy instead. The employee shouldn't have left the laptop in his/her car, but it was a mistake, not evil in intent. The blood sucking leeches in the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services are the evil ones in this story.

    DeNiles, I can assure you that Hospice of North Idaho doesn't handle patient care "haphazardly" at all. My late mother was cared for with the utmost professionalism and compassion by the good people from Hospice of North Idaho, and my whole family was grateful for their dedication. The fact that information was compromised is concerning and steps should be taken within the organization to prevent a recurrence, as they have been. But a fine at all, especially this large, is just a slap in the face to a good organization and to the people who have contributed to it.

  • mister d posted at 9:04 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    Shouldn't the families who had their information compromised get the money and not the government.

  • dtsinidaho posted at 9:00 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    dtsinidaho Posts: 250

    The point is that a 49.95 dollar program could wipe any of that information in a seconds if not accessed correctly. Technical laziness is no excuse. Now if the Government office were LOGICAL, they would take that 50 thousand bucks and put it back into HONI for extra security measures.

    Either they have a really Lazy IT person, or they don't LISTEN to their IT person. Either way, that's 50K gone.

  • ancientemplar posted at 8:00 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1283

    just like the idiots in D.C. to take needed money from an all donation based, valuable charitable organization and spend it like all the other Fed monies, without accountability. Something is real wrong with that picture.

  • wheels1 posted at 7:50 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    wheels1 Posts: 477

    So typical of our bloated Gov't. The monetary penalty is assinine.

  • katiesmom posted at 6:34 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    katiesmom Posts: 19

    My mother is a patient of HONI. While it upsets me that patient information was stolen, it upsets me more the penalty imposed. I work in a job where I see personal information leaked every day. Fining a non-profit, when we don't know the full extent of damage, is extreme.

  • DeNiles posted at 6:17 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    DeNiles Posts: 2450

    Now consider this mess from the perspective of HONI's patients and their families. Not only are these people dying but they now have all of their personal and medical information running free and easy in the criminal world. There are reasons why the Feds have such strict rules about safeguarding this type of data. There are reasons for the harsh fines. HONI gave no explanation as to why they handled the data base so haphazardly. Is this how they conduct the rest of their services? OOooops my bad?

  • barneyrubble posted at 2:28 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    barneyrubble Posts: 30

    Shouldn't be any settlement unless damages are proven

  • barneyrubble posted at 2:27 am on Fri, Dec 28, 2012.

    barneyrubble Posts: 30

    Classic example of the bloodsucking leaches, our US govt, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services'office of civil rights. They are taking from Hospice, who care for those in need.
    Stories like this are disturbing.

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