The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights has announced its second enforcement action under its HIPAA Right of Access Initiative. Florida-based Korunda Medical has agreed to settle potential violations of the HIPAA Right of Access and will adopt a corrective action plan and bring its policies and procedures in line with the requirements of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
In March 2019, OCR received a complaint from a patient who alleged she had not been provided with a copy of her medical records in the requested electronic format despite making repeated requests. The complainant alleged that Korunda Medical refused to send an electronic copy of her medical records to a third party and was overcharging patients for providing copies of their medical records. Under HIPAA, covered entities are only permitted to charge a reasonable, cost-based fee for providing access to patients’ protected health information.
The initial complaint was filed with OCR on March 6, 2019. On March 18, 2019, OCR provided technical assistance to Korunda Medical on the HIPAA Right of Access and closed the complaint. Four days later, a second complaint was received which demonstrated continued noncompliance with the HIPAA Right of Access. On May 8, 2019, OCR advised Korunda Medical that a compliance investigation had been launched. As a result of OCR’s intervention, the complainant was provided with a copy of her medical records free of charge. Continued noncompliance with the HIPAA Right of Access resulted in a $85,000 financial penalty for Korunda Medical.
“For too long, healthcare providers have slow-walked their duty to provide patients their medical records out of a sleepy bureaucratic inertia. We hope our shift to the imposition of corrective actions and settlements under our Right of Access Initiative will finally wake up healthcare providers to their obligations under the law,” said OCR Director, Roger Severino.
The HIPAA Right of Action Initiative is a HIPAA enforcement drive to ensure HIPAA-covered entities are providing patients with copies of their medical records in a timely manner, in the format of their choosing, and without being overcharged. The first enforcement action under this initiative was announced in September 2019. Bayfront Health St Petersburg was also required to pay a financial penalty of $85,000 to resolve HIPAA Right of Access failures.
This is the ninth HIPAA enforcement action of 2019. OCR has settled 8 HIPAA violation cases this year and has issued one civil monetary penalty, with the financial penalties ranging from $10,000 to $3 million. So far in 2019, $12,209,000 has been paid to OCR to resolve HIPAA violations.
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