Healthcare Roundup—Boston hospitals pay nearly $1M to settle HIPAA violations in ABC show

Massachusetts General Hospital
Three Boston-area hospitals have paid a collective $990,000 to settle HIPAA violations, plus more healthcare headlines. (Massachusetts General Hospital)

Boston hospitals pay out nearly $1 million in HIPAA violation settlements 

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights reached settlements with three Boston-area hospitals—Boston Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital—for HIPAA violations. 

The three hospitals collectively paid out $990,000 for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The three hospitals allowed an ABC crew to film a documentary called "Save my Life: Boston Trauma" in their facilities without first getting patient permission, OCR said. 

BMC paid $100,000, Brigham paid $384,000 and Mass General paid $515,000 in the settlement. OCR also settled a similar case involving and ABC crew with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in April 2016. (Announcement

Surgeon General: Addressing opioid epidemic requires a cultural shift 

Americans need to rethink the way they talk about the opioid epidemic, the Surgeon General says. 

Jerome Adams, M.D., issued a spotlight report Thursday on the opioid crisis, highlighting some of the latest figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on the epidemic—including that 11.1 million U.S. adults misused an opioid last year.

Making progress on the epidemic will require breaking through the perception of addiction, Adams said. “Addiction is a brain disease that touches families across America—even my own,” Adams said. “We need to work together to put an end to stigma.”

The Surgeon General also issued a set of recommendations that anyone can follow to raise awareness or prevent overdose deaths, such as keeping naloxone on hand or talking to their doctors about alternative pain management options. (Announcement)

AHRQ report highlights seniors’ battle with opioids 

Opioid-related hospitalizations for older Americans increased by 34% between 2010 and 2015, according to a new report from AHRQ.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released new data this week that puts a spotlight on how the opioid epidemic is impacting senior citizens. Nearly 125,000 hospitalizations of seniors reported in 2015 involved an opioid-related condition, according to the report.

Seniors are also prescribed opioids on a fairly frequent basis, AHRQ found. In 2015 and 2016, an average of nearly 4 million seniors filled at least four opioid prescriptions. Nearly 10 million filled at least one opioid prescription. (Announcement