August 13, 2018 – Two branches of Oklahoma’s government are affected in a altercation over whether the Oklahoma Administration of Veterans Affairs committed a HIPAA abuse back it accustomed VA medical aides to admission accommodating medical annal application their smartphones during an internet outage.
On July 25, a appointed internet abeyance prevented aides at VA centers in Norman and Lawton from accessing accommodating medical records. To cope, administration admiral accustomed the aides to admission the medical annal arrangement application their smartphones.
In a letter to Republican Governor Mary Fallin, three Democratic accompaniment assembly argued that the accommodation to acquiesce admission to medical annal application smartphones was a “direct abuse of federal HIPAA regulations,” The Oklahoman appear Aug. 8.
Reps. Brian Renegar, Chuck Hoskin, and David Perryman warned that the declared HIPAA abuse “could attempt the millions of federal allotment dollars advancing to our Oklahoma veterans.”
The assembly alleged for the battlefront of two admiral — Veterans Affairs Executive Director Doug Elliott and Clinical Compliance Director Tina Williams.
“This occurred because Elliott and Williams accept little attention for, and ability of, bloom care,” they told Fallin.
The accompaniment Chief Advice Aegis Officer Mark Gower disagreed. In a announcement issued in acknowledgment to the letter, he said that the convenance did not breach any federal or accompaniment aloofness laws, The Oklahoman appear Aug. 9.
Gower bent that the admission was defended and bound to a baby cardinal of accustomed VA personnel.
“The (records system) does not abundance a bounded archetype of abstracts on the accessory back it is accessed and it does not accumulation abstracts on the device, affair aegis requirements,” Gower wrote in a address submitted to Elliott.
The administration had asked the accompaniment to investigate the adventure in acknowledgment to the lawmakers’ letter.
Responding to the letter, Elliott said in an account that the advisers were accustomed temporary, password-protected admission to medical annal application their smartphones to ensure that VA association accustomed medication during the internet outage.
“Managers were never told to archetype medical annal to annihilation because that denotes article sinister, that you’re activity to use those afterwards for your own use,” Elliott said.
“These association were accustomed access, alien access, and they acclimated their cellphones for that access, aloof like they would any computer or smartphone or laptop. As anon as the botheration changed itself, that alien admission was shut off.”
Elliott added, “It is abysmal that any of the med aides accept appear that advice to a third party.”
“While I do not accept these allegations accept any merit, I accept appear them to the state’s IT aegis aggregation for a abounding analysis into this matter,” Elliott said in a account release.
A agent for Gov. Fallin, Michael McNutt, said that the VA was “treating the affair with the calmness it deserves in the best cellophane way possible.”
The assembly were agnostic by Gower’s conclusion. “The federal government’s activity to be the one to actuate this, not some accompaniment bureau allowance addition accompaniment bureau ablution their easily of what they did,” said Rep. Renegar.
“I don’t affliction who from a accompaniment bureau gets up and says they didn’t do annihilation wrong. It’s not a accompaniment issue, it’s a federal issue, and we’ll acquisition out.”
The assembly accept forwarded their apropos to HHS, US Attorney Robert Troester, and the US Administration of Veterans Affairs.
In an account Aug. 9, Elliott accepted his advisers for switching to adaptable admission during the computer outage, adage it accustomed hundreds of patients to abide accepting acute medications. He said 150 VA advisers registered for medical aloofness training afterwards the adventure was scrutinized this week.
Elliott criticized the Democratic legislators who aloft the issue, calling it “unconscionable” for them to advance VA employees abandoned aloofness laws.
“It’s an ambiance of no tolerance, and it’s acutely motivated by article added than caring for veterans,” Elliott concluded.
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