OCR Issues Guidance on Risk Analysis for HIPAA Security Compliance

On Friday, May 7, 2010, the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) issued guidance related to the HIPAA Security Rule’s risk analysis requirement.  Under HITECH, OCR is responsible for issuing annual guidance on provisions of the HIPAA Security Rule.  This guidance is the first in a series of documents aimed at helping covered entities and business associates implement effective and appropriate administrative, physical, and technical security safeguards. 

This guidance document is generally consistent with the materials provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) prior to the introduction of HITECH.  For example, like the recently released OCR guidance, CMS historically directed covered entities to refer to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Special Publication 800-66 Rev.1, An Introductory Resource Guide for Implementing the HIPAA Security Rule (October 2008) (“NIST 800-66”).  NIST 800-66 frequently directs readers to consult NIST SP 800-30, Risk Management Guide for Information Technology Systems (July 2002), which is also quoted extensively in the recently released OCR guidance.  Moreover, the OCR guidance is quite similar to the HIPAA Security Series, Paper 6: Basics of Risk Analysis and Risk Management which was most recently revised by CMS in March 2007. 

OCR encourages the public to offer feedback on the risk analysis guidance. Comments can be submitted to OCR at OCRPrivacy@hhs.gov

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