The HHS Office for Civil Rights during November will begin HIPAA audits to assess covered entities' compliance with the privacy, security and breach notification rules.

Under a $9 million contract announced in July, consultancy KPMG has developed audit protocols and now will conduct up to 150 audits by the end of 2012. KPMG, ironically, was responsible for two major breaches listed on OCR's public web site of incidents affecting 500 or more individuals. In May 2010, the firm lost an unencrypted flash drive holding protected health information on 956 patients of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and 3,630 patients at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, both in New Jersey.

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