Per the notice below, the United States Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has taken another Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) patient right of access to records action.
Lab Pays $16,500 Settlement to HHS, Resolving Potential HIPAA Violation over Medical Records Request
January 03, 2023
Today, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a settlement with Life Hope Labs, LLC (“Life Hope Labs”), a full-service diagnostic laboratory in Sandy Springs, Georgia, concerning a potential violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule's right of access provision. The rule requires that patients be able to access their health information in a timely manner. This investigation marks the 43rd case to be resolved under OCR’s HIPAA Right of Access Initiative, designed to improve compliance by regulated entities with the law. Life Hope Labs agreed to implement a corrective action plan and pay $16,500 to resolve this investigation.
“Access to medical records, including lab results, empowers patients to better manage their health, communicate with their treatment teams, and adhere to their treatment plans. The HIPAA Privacy Rule gives individuals and personal representatives a right to timely access their medical records from all covered entities, including laboratories,” said OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer. “Laboratories covered by HIPAA must follow the law and ensure that they are responding timely to records access requests.”
In August 2021, a complaint was filed with OCR alleging that Life Hope Labs would not provide a personal representative with a copy of her deceased father’s medical records. The personal representative first requested access to her father’s records on July 7, 2021, but did not receive them until February 16, 2022, over seven months later. OCR's investigation determined that Life Hope Labs’ failure to provide timely access to the requested medical records was a potential violation of the HIPAA right of access provision. In addition to the monetary settlement, Life Hope Labs also agreed to implement a corrective action plan that includes two years of monitoring by OCR. A copy of the resolution agreement and corrective action plan may be found at: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/compliance-enforcement/agreements/life-hopes-ra-cap/index.html. OCR’s guidance on the HIPAA right of access is available at: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/guidance/access/index.html. OCR is committed to ensuring that the privacy and security of peoples’ health information is protected under HIPAA. If you believe that your or another person’s health information privacy or civil rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with OCR at: https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints/index.html.