HIPAA Access Violation Results in Settlement

September 10, 2019 | Eric D. Fader | Electronic Health Records | HIPAA | Hospitals | Litigation

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on September 9 that Bayfront Health St. Petersburg (Bayfront), a 480-bed Florida hospital, has paid HHS’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) $85,000 to settle a potential violation of HIPAA’s right of access provisions. Bayfront’s Resolution Agreement with HHS also provided for the company to enter into a one-year corrective action plan.

The settlement arose out of a mother’s complaint to the OCR that Bayfront had not provided her with timely access to records about her unborn baby. The HIPAA rules require covered healthcare providers to provide medical records within 30 days of a request, but Bayfront first claimed that it could not locate the baby’s records and then finally provided them more than nine months after the initial request.

The OCR’s enforcement action is part of its new “Right of Access Initiative” which is intended to enforce patients’ rights to obtain their records. There has been an increased focus on access violations in 2019, as most recently discussed here.

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