Massachusetts Mental Health Clinic Pays $65,000 to Resolve HIPAA Right of Access Violation

Arbour Hospital, a mental health clinic based in Boston, MA, has resolved a HIPAA Right of Action case with the HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) by paying $65,000 as a penalty.

On July 5, 2019, OCR was informed regarding a likely violation of the HIPAA Right of Access. A patient of Arbour Hospital claimed he had asked for a copy of his healthcare records from the hospital on May 7, 2019 yet had not been given those records in two months.

If a healthcare service provider gets a request from someone who would like to exercise their HIPAA Privacy Rule right to get hold of a copy of their medical records, a copy of those data ought to be furnished without delay and within 30 days after getting the request. It’s possible to extend the time beyond 30 days in cases where files are kept offsite or maybe not conveniently accessible. In such instances, the patient asking for the documents need to be advised concerning the extension in writing in 30 days and be given why the records are overdue.

OCR got in touch with Arbour Hospital and given technical help on the HIPAA Right of Access on July 22, 2019 and closed the issue. The patient then filed another complaint to OCR on July 28, 2019 since he still didn’t receive his medical documents. The documents were later provided to the patient on November 1, 2019, more or less 6 months after filing the written request and over 3 months following the technical support on the HIPAA Right of Access given by OCR.

OCR affirmed that the inability to take action on a written, signed healthcare record request from a person on time violated the HIPAA Right of Access – 45 C.F.R. § 164.524(b). Aside from the financial fine, Arbour Hospital must take up a corrective action plan that consists of carrying out policies and procedures with regard to patient record access and offering training to the staff. Arbour Hospital will likewise be under OCRsupervision for 1-year compliance.

Medical care providers have a job to deliver to their patients with prompt access to their own health records, and OCR is going to hold providers liable to this duty so that patients could avail their rights and get desired health material to be active players in their medical care, stated by Acting OCR Director Robinsue Frohboese.

The HIPAA Right of Access enforcement initiative started in the latter part of 2019 to make certain patients are furnished with prompt access to their health records at a good fee. This is the sixteenth financial penalty to be given to OCR to settle HIPAA Right of Access violations pursuant to this enforcement initiative and it is the 4th HIPAA Right of Access settlement to be published in 2021.