The HHS’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has decided to resolve three investigations of dental practices for likely HIPAA Right of Access violations. The three investigations were begun after patients complained concerning the inability of their dental practices to offer them on-time access to their medical records, as one of the investigations included an accusation of charging an overpriced fee for a copy of health records.
A patient of Great Expressions Dental Center of Georgia, P.C. (GEDC-GA) submitted a complaint at the OCR last November 2020 after the Georgia-based dental and orthodontics company informed her that a copy of her health records will only be given after she pays a $170 copying charge. The HIPAA Right of Access grants healthcare institutions to bill patients for giving a copy of their medical records, however, the costs ought to be fair and cost-based.
OCR’s investigation results show that the patient didn’t receive a copy of her files until February 2021, which is 15 months following the preliminary request. OCR likewise confirmed that GEDC-GA’s practice of reviewing copying costs led to the patient being billed a cost that wasn’t fair and cost-based. GEDC-GA decided to resolve the case and spent on an $80,000 penalty and put in place a good corrective action plan to deal with the violation of the HIPAA Right of Access.
An investigation of Family Dental Care, P.C. based in Chicago-IL started after a patient filed a complaint on August 8, 2020 saying that the dental practce failed to give her a complete copy of her healthcare records. The former patient sent a request for all her information in May 2020, however, only parts of those files were made available. The patient didn’t get her complete records until October 2020, above 5 months after the first request was filed. OCR confirmed there was an inability to give prompt access to the required medical records, which breached the HIPAA Right of Access. Family Dental Care opted to negotiate the case by paying a $30,000 dine and enforced a corrective action plan to handle the non-compliance.
OCR got a complaint on October 26, 2020 from patient of B. Steven L. Hardy, D.D.S., LTD (dba Paradise Family Dental located in Las Vegas, NV). The patient claimed to have asked for a copy of her and her small kid’s healthcare information on a number of instances, nevertheless, the records were not given. The requests were submitted from April 11, 2020, to December 4, 2020, yet the files were not given until December 31, 2020, 8 months right after the preliminary submission of the request. OCR established the late provision of the records breached the HIPAA Right of Access. Paradise decided to resolve the case and spent a $25,000 financial fine and carried out a corrective action plan to deal with the violation.
OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer mentioned that the enforcement action regarding the 3 right of access violations emphasizes why dental practices of any size need to adhere to the HIPAA Rules. Patients get an essential right protected by HIPAA to obtain their asked-for health records, generally, in a period of 30 days. When companies comply, there will be fewer patients to submit a complaint with OCR regarding their medical records requisition.