Mr. Severino was recently appointed as the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office For Civil Rights, which makes him the agency’s chief enforcer where HIPAA violations are concerned. His stated mission is, in his own words, to find a “big, juicy, egregious breach case to use as an example from which others can learn.”
Since taking over the office, Severino has been hard at work. He has just completed a massive overhaul of the agency’s “Wall of Shame,” which is a website that lists all the breaches they’ve investigated, and all the companies found to be in violation of HIPAA regulations.
One of the most common complaints about the Wall of Shame was not that it existed and shined a bright light on HIPAA offenders, but that it was extremely dated, and only offered a simple alphabetic listing of companies.
The new website provides complete and better information about not just who has been found to be in violation, but whether they’ve taken steps to correct the problems, and what their current status is.
Even so, it would be a mistake to view Severino as a friend. His job is to make sure that people who violate HIPAA regulations are raked over the coals for it, and as he himself has stated, he’s on the hunt for a company to make an example of.
If you work with PHI or PII, you’d best be sure that you’re following HIPAA regulations to the letter. Otherwise, the next time you hear Mr. Severino’s name, it could be on an official piece of correspondence from his department. Don’t be his target!