HIPAA right of accessThe Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) continues its right of access enforcement initiative, announcing two HIPAA right-of-access settlements within two days of each other. More details on the violation settlements are discussed.

Renown Health $75,000 HIPAA Right-of-Access Violation Settlement

On February 10, 2021, HHS’ OCR announced its fifteenth right-of-access violation settlements with Renown Health. OCR launched an investigation into Renown after receiving a patient complaint in February 2019 alleging that the healthcare provider failed to respond to a patient’s request for medical records. The investigation determined that Renown potentially violated the HIPAA right-of-access standard. To settle the matter, Renown agreed to pay a $75,000 fine, implement a corrective action plan, and be subjected to two years of OCR monitoring.

The provisions of the corrective action plan require Renown to revise policies and procedures to reflect Renown’s obligation to comply with the right-of-access standard. This includes outlining access protocols, and training staff on how to comply with records requests.

Sharp HealthCare $70,000 Violation Settlement

On February 12, 2021, HHS’ OCR announced its sixteenth HIPAA right-of-access violation settlement with Sharp HealthCare. After receiving a complaint in June 2019 from a patient’s personal representative that Sharp failed to provide the patient with requested records, HHS’ OCR launched an investigation. The investigation concluded within two weeks of the complaint, and OCR provided Sharp with technical assistance so that they may comply with the records request. However, OCR received a second complaint after Sharp failed to provide the records until October 2019, well past the 30-day allowance for compliance. As a result, Sharp agreed to pay a $70,000 fine, implement a corrective action plan, and be subjected to two years of OCR monitoring. 

The provisions of the corrective action plan require Sharp to develop policies and procedures in relation to complying with the HIPAA right-of-access standard. As part of this requirement, Sharp must include an accurate definition of a Designated Record Set, and train staff members on fulfilling access requests.