Thursday, September 12, 2019

Office of Civil Rights Settles with Bayfront Health for $85,000

 


Here is a post about HIPAA that doesn’t have to do with hacks or data security.  However, you should still read this because it will hopefully provide some valuable information on how to abide by other provisions of HIPAA.

Part of the HIPAA law structure is the right of patients to receive access to their records in a timely fashion and without being overcharged.  In a recent study, it was found that more than 50% of providers do not follow the law.

To that end, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights has decided to monitor and enforce this provision of the law.  The moral to this story is that if a patient requests their records, grant them access asap.  The law requires access within 30 days and patients may only be charged a reasonable fee.

In the case sited in the headline of this post, Bayfront Health received a request from a pregnant patient requesting the fetal heart monitor records of her unborn child.  An investigation by OCR (after a complaint was filed by the patient) found that it took 9 months for access to be provided.

Here is the information from HHS:

OCR Settles First Case in HIPAA Right of Access Initiative
Today, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is announcing its first enforcement action and settlement in its Right of Access Initiative.  Earlier this year, OCR announced this initiative promising to vigorously enforce the rights of patients to receive copies of their medical records promptly and without being overcharged.
Bayfront Health St. Petersburg (Bayfront) has paid $85,000 to OCR and has adopted a corrective action plan to settle a potential violation of the right of access provision of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Rules after Bayfront failed to provide a mother timely access to records about her unborn child.  Bayfront, based in St. Petersburg, Florida, is a Level II trauma and tertiary care center licensed as a 480-bed hospital with over 550 affiliated physicians.
OCR initiated its investigation based on a complaint from the mother.  As a result, Bayfront directly provided the individual with the requested health information more than nine months after the initial request. The HIPAA Rules generally require covered health care providers to provide medical records within 30 days of the request and providers can only charge a reasonable cost-based fee.  This right to patient records extends to parents who seek medical information about their minor children, and in this case, a mother who sought prenatal health records about her child.
“Providing patients with their health information not only lowers costs and leads to better health outcomes, it’s the law,” said OCR Director Roger Severino.  “We aim to hold the health care industry accountable for ignoring peoples’ rights to access their medical records and those of their kids.”
In addition to the monetary settlement, Bayfront will undertake a corrective action plan that includes one year of monitoring by OCR. The resolution agreement and corrective action plan may be found at: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/compliance-enforcement/agreements/bayfront/index.html

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