19th HIPAA Penalty of 2020 Issued by OCR

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has arrived at a settlement deal with Peter Wrobel, M.D., P.C., dba Elite Primary Care, in connection with its non-compliance with the HIPAA Right of Access rule.

Elite Primary Care delivers primary health services to residents in Georgia. OCR initiated its compliance investigation of Elite Primary Care after getting a complaint from a patient on April 22, 2019. Apparently, the practice declined to give the patient a copy of his health records. On May 2, 2019, OCR provided the practice with technical assistance to resolve the HIPAA Right of Access issue. OCR directed the practice to take a look at the points of the patient’s request and deliver the needed records if all HIPAA Privacy Rule requirements are met.

On June 5, 2019, the patient afterward submitted a written request to the practice for a copy of his records. On October 9, 2019, the patient filed another complaint to OCR because the practice still did not give a copy of the medical records he needed.

Finally, on November 21, 2019, the practice furnished the patient’s new healthcare company a copy of his health information. The patient also received his copy on May 8, 2020.

Due to the overdue delivery of the requested medical records to the patient, OCR regarded this incident as a violation of the HIPAA Right of Access (45 C.F.R. § 164.524) by Elite Primary Care.

The agreed settlement requires Elite Primary Care to pay a $36,000 financial fine and to follow a corrective action plan. This entails steps such as developing, executing, keeping, and updating its policies and procedures related to the provisions of the HIPAA Right of Access of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. After OCR has inspected the updated policies and procedures, employees will undergo proper training.

The practice consented to the settlement deal without admitting liability. OCR will oversee Elite Primary Care for two years to be sure that it complies with the required actions.

This settlement is the 13th that OCR announced this 2020 under the HIPAA Right of Access enforcement initiative. It is also the 19th HIPAA financial penalty that OCR declared.

OCR introduced the Right of Access Initiative to handle the numerous cases where patients were not given timely access to their medical data. Health care organizations, whether big or small, are required to provide patients with prompt health records access while charging a reasonable fee, OCR Director Roger Severino said.