Researchers uncover novel role for Gata4 in reducing post-heart attack fibrosis

During a heart attack, blood stops flowing into the heart; starved for oxygen, part of the heart muscle dies.

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Space under the skin may be optimal location to treat type 1 diabetes

A group of U of T researchers have demonstrated that the space under our skin might be an optimal location to treat type 1 diabetes (T1D).

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Lessons Learned from 2017 OCR HIPAA Enforcement Actions

So far 2017 is proving to be an active year for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) enforcement. This comes on the heels of 2016, which saw an unprecedented level of enforcement actions, with 13 total settlements and nearly a 300 percent increase in total collected fines over 2015. To date in 2017, nine actions have been settled and the average settlement amount continues to outpace 2016.

Three Tips to Help Reduce the Risk of a HIPAA Violation

Several themes have emerged from these enforcement actions that HIPAA-regulated entities should be mindful of to help reduce the risk of a HIPAA violation occurring and to reduce the potential resulting fine in the event of enforcement.

1. Conduct Risk Analyses Regularly. One of the most consistent themes that has emerged from the 2017 settlement and corrective action plans announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is that organizations subject to HIPAA must regularly conduct risk analyses in accordance with the Security Rule to assess risk and vulnerabilities in an organization’s ePHI environment. The Security Rule does not proscribe a specific risk analysis methodology given that the analysis will vary depending on an organization’s size and capabilities. However, the risk analysis should comply with available OCR guidance, including the Guidance on Risk Analysis Requirements under the HIPAA Security Rule.

[A] lack of risk management not only costs individuals the security of their data, but it can also cost covered entities a sizable fine.
– OCR Acting Director Robinsue Frohboese

2. Implement a Risk Management Plan and Reasonable Safeguards. While conducting a risk analysis is critical, equally important is the risk management plan and the reasonable safeguards an organization adopts in light of any risks or vulnerabilities that are identified in the risk analysis. For example, OCR assessed a $3.2 million civil monetary penalty against a hospital in February, after noting that the hospital continued to use unencrypted devices even after reporting a breach in 2009 involving the loss of an unencrypted, non-password protected device. Note that the issuance of a penalty is rare, as most OCR enforcement actions result in a settlement, not a penalty. Here, however, the hospital chose to pay the penalty as opposed to negotiate with OCR.

hipaa3. Report Breaches in Timely Manner. A settlement announced in January made headlines as the first HIPAA settlement based on the untimely reporting or notification of a breach under the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule. OCR found that the healthcare network failed, with unreasonable delay, to notify OCR, the affected individuals, and the media within the required 60-day timeframe. Instead, the notifications were made over 100 days after discovery of the breach. This settlement highlights the importance of having clear policies and procedures that workforce members have been trained on in order to respond within HIPAA’s breach notification timeframes.

OCR Updated Web Tool

OCR recently announced the release of an updated web tool to provide enhanced transparency to the HIPAA breach reporting tool. New features include: 1) breaches currently under investigation and reported within the last 24 months; 2) an archive of all older data breaches; 3) tips for consumers; and 4) navigation to additional breach information.

Foley regularly assists clients with implementing HIPAA compliance programs, handling data breach notification requirements, and responding to OCR audits and investigations. For more information contact: Jennifer Rathburn, Jennifer Hennessy, or Julie Kadish.

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Goldfish survive lack of oxygen for months by converting their carbs to alcohol

A new study has shown that goldfish and similar crucian carps can live up to five months in icy lakes with extremely low or no oxygen. Evolution of the fish has enabled them to develop a set of enzymes that can help the fish convert their carbohydrates into alcohol.

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Robotic technology gives surgeons better view during esophageal surgery

Based on what is believed to be the largest study of its kind, Allina Health researchers say robotic assisted transhiatal esophagectomy (RATE) is effective and safe for a carefully selected group of patients.

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Newly discovered immunodeficiency can make people seriously ill from chickenpox virus

A mutation in one of the sensors that the immune system uses to detect viruses can, in rare cases, turn infections with the chickenpox virus into a life-threatening matter.

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Researchers find specific type of immune cells in patients with excessive antibody production

The team from Instituto de Medicina Molecular Lisboa, led by Luis Graça, analyzed blood samples from Sjögren syndrome patients, an autoimmune disease that affects the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of the eyes and mouth, and found that these patients have a significant increase in a specific type of immune cells called T follicular regulatory cells (Tfr).

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Biomedical scientist receives $1.83 million NIH grant for inflammatory bowel disease research

A biomedical scientist at the University of California, Riverside has received a $1.83 million grant to identify how the loss of a protective barrier in the intestine contributes to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

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FDA warns against use of many drugs, dietary supplements due to potential contamination

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers and health care professionals not to use any liquid drug or dietary supplement products manufactured by PharmaTech LLC of Davie, Florida, and labeled by Rugby Laboratories, Major Pharmaceuticals and Leader Brands, due to potential contamination with the bacteria Burkholderia cepacia (B. cepacia) and the risk for severe patient infection.

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Chemist develops new sugar-coated probe to easily detect low pH in living cells

The human body is engaged in a constant tightrope walk to maintain the right pH, because when our cells’ acid-alkaline balance goes wrong, it can go wrong in a big way.

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