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t seems there is no end to the rigors and additional costs for your dental office brought on by regulatory compliance. If you use a computer in your practice, then you probably have exposure to cyber- liability because of HIPAA (2003) and the more recent HITECH ACT (2010) which modified the HIPAA laws.

If any of this sounds familiar, it may be because this publication has carried articles on this topic before. Or you may have heard us speak at the MDA Summer Funfest in 2009 and at various component and study club meetings around the state. We feel the continued conversation and concern about this topic is justified because of the stiff fines and enforcement that can be handed out by the Office of Civil Rights of the federal agency, Health and Human Services. State attorney generals also may enforce these laws, and there is unlimited civil liability in the event a lawsuit is filed by a patient.

Further validation of our concern is now evidenced by the fact that insurance carriers are beginning to offer insurance coverage for cases involving a breach or loss of the patients’ nonpublic, private data that you use in your practice. This is actually good news because such coverage did not exist before now.

One of the companies that we work with here at MDIS is Hartford, and they are among the first to make this available to their business owner policy holders. We anticipate that other companies will attempt to provide similar coverage in the future. The coverage is structured around two areas.

FIRST PARTY COVERAGE pertains to you and is designed to help pay for the response in the event there is a data breach at your practice. HIPAA prescribes a specific

response by you, the covered entity, in the event of a data breach. This includes measures such as a notification of all patients whose information may be jeopardized, a prominent newspaper notice, credit monitoring of the patients and other measures. Because of those requirements, first party coverage includes: • Legal and forensic services

• Crisis management/public relations • Notification expenses • Good faith advertising expenses

• Services for impacted individuals such as credit monitoring

Limits of liability up to $100,000 are available.

THIRD PARTY COVERAGE is designed to pay for defense and liability expenses and would cover:

• The cost of your legal defense

• The cost of a settlement or judgment imposed on you by a court or jury

Limits of up to $500,000 are available, and the defense is within these limits.

This is a limited description of this new insurance coverage, and underwriting questions are used to determine whether you are eligible.

Because this is already a law, there is an expectation that you are in compliance with HIPAA and already understand and follow procedures and protocol to minimize the possibility of a data breach.

Even with all of the precautions, the number of data breach incidents is on the rise. Most dental offices have a strong sense of responsibility to their employees and patients. When a breach occurs, there may be a feeling that a trust is violated. We believe that it is important to respond quickly and appropriately to restore that trust and protect the reputation of your practice.

With the downturn of our economy, there unfortunately may be a higher than normal incidence of people seeking money through many different kinds of liability claims. Whether malpractice, slip and fall, or cyber-liability, we suggest that you protect yourself by following best practices and being properly insured.

If you have questions regarding data breach, cyber-liability or insurance coverage, contact MDIS at 800-944-7550 or

This information is general in nature and is not intended as legal, tax, or financial advice for your specific situation. It is our goal to provide you with ideas and concepts that may help you, but only after research and consultation with the ap- propriate professionals.

NOV/DEC 2011 | focus 23

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