MA Physician Sentenced to 1-Year Probation for HIPAA Violation

Rita Luthra, a Springfield, MA-based gynecologist, was recently sentenced to one-year probation for a criminal HIPAA violation and obstruction of a criminal healthcare investigation, as reported by Health IT Security.

In April, a jury convicted her of allowing a Warner Chilcott sales representative to access patient records, and then lying to federal investigators. In the original compliant, the Department of Justice (DoJ) alleged that Luthra allowed this sales representative to access her patients’ PHI and then provided false information to HHS agents about her dealings with the drug company.

The HIPAA violation charge carries a possible sentence of up to one year in prison and/or a fine of $50,000 and one year of supervised release and the obstruction charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and three years of supervised release. Apparently Judge Mastroianni opted for leniency because of Luthra’s work serving women and girls in Springfield’s impoverished North End, the report noted.

The prosecution of Luthra stemmed from a DoJ investigation into the market practices of the drug company. The department accused Warner Chilcott of paying kickbacks to physicians to get them to prescribe its drugs, manipulating prior authorizations to induce insurance companies to pay for prescriptions of the osteoporosis drug Atelvia, and making unsubstantiated marketing claims about the osteoporosis drug Actonel.

To learn about the case in greater detail, please visit the Health IT Security website. Learn more about HIPAA compliance for medical practices in New York at HIPAAcraticRx.

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