OCR Issued the 19th HIPAA Penalty of 2020

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has reached a settlement with Peter Wrobel, M.D., P.C., also known as Elite Primary Care, over a HIPAA Right of Access compliance violation.

Elite Primary Care in Georgia provides primary health services. OCR started a compliance investigation after receiving a complaint from one of its patients on April 22, 2019. Allegedly, he had been refused access to his medical records. On May 2, 2019, OCR got in touch with the provider and offered technical support on the HIPAA Right of Access. OCR instructed the practice to evaluate the specifics of the request and give the requested information if the request satisfied the HIPAA Privacy Rule requirements.

The patient later sent a written request for access to the practice on June 5, 2019. The patient submitted to OCR another complaint on October 9, 2019, since the practice still refused to provide access to the medical records he requested.

On November 21, 2019, Elite Primary Care provided the patient’s health information to his new healthcare company and also gave the patient his copy of the information on May 8, 2020.

Because of the delayed provision of the requested records to the patient, OCR judged that the practice violated the HIPAA Right of Access (45 C.F.R. § 164.524).

Under the conditions of the settlement, Elite Primary Care is going to pay a $36,000 financial penalty and undertake a corrective action plan which includes creating, enforcing, maintaining, and updating, as required, its written policies and guidelines associated with the HIPAA Right of Access condition of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. As soon as OCR has checked those policies and guidelines, pertinent members of its staff will be given proper training.

The practice agreed to the settlement without admission of liability. OCR is going to supervise Elite Primary Care for two years to make sure that it follows the required compliance.

This is OCR’s 13th settlement announcement under the HIPAA Right of Access enforcement initiative and the 19th HIPAA financial penalty issued in 2020.

OCR established the Right of Access Initiative to deal with the numerous instances that patients were denied prompt access to their health records. Health care companies, big or small, should make sure to give prompt access to patients’ health records, and for a fair fee, according to OCR Director Roger Severino.