The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Civil Rights Office (OCR) recently resolved its 42nd case under its HIPAA Right of Access Initiative. The rule requires healthcare providers to give patients access to their health records upon request and for a reasonable fee. However, as we have previously written about, many providers are either slow to respond, fail to respond, or when they do respond, have charged excessive amounts of money for those records.
The most recent case involves Health Specialists of Central Florida Inc., a primary care provider. The initial complaint was filed in August 2019, by a daughter acting as a personal representative on behalf of her deceased father who had been a patient of Health Specialists of Central Florida Inc. The complainant alleged that the provider failed to provide her with timely access to the requested medical records, despite multiple requests.
As a result of the complaint and subsequent investigation by OCR, the daughter finally received all of the requested records, nearly five months after her initial request. The provider paid $20,000 to OCR to settle the case and agreed to implement a corrective action plan that includes two years of monitoring to resolve the investigation.
The first Right of Access case was settled in September 2019 for $85,000.
In September 2022, OCR announced it had settled three such cases against dental practices in Chicago, Georgia and Nevada for a total of $135,000. In July, 11 Right of Access cases were settled. They involved practices that included podiatrists, psychiatric services, a retina specialist, nursing home and surgery group, to name a few. Settlement payments ranged from $5,000 to $240,000.
OCR has said it is serious “about upholding the law and peoples’ fundamental right to timely access to their medical records.”
OCR launched its Right of Access Initiative in an effort to “put patients in the driver’s seat,” by giving them easier access to their medical records so they can take control of decisions regarding their health. HIPAA rules generally require medical records be provided within 30 days of the request and that providers charge a reasonable cost-based fee.
The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale can assist you in reviewing your policies and procedures. Contact us for additional information at 305-358-4500 or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s discuss how we might be able to assist you.