New Jersey Plastic Surgery Practice Pays $30K to OCR to Settle HIPAA Right of Access Case

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The HHS’ Office for Civil Rights has announced a settlement has been reached with Ridgewood, NJ-based Village Plastic Surgery to resolve potential violations of the HIPAA Right of Access. Under the terms of the settlement, Village Plastic Surgery will pay a $30,000 penalty and will adopt a corrective action plan that requires policies and procedures to be implemented related to access to protected health information (PHI). OCR will also monitor Village Plastic Surgery for compliance for 2 years.

OCR launched an investigation into Village Plastic Surgery following receipt of a complaint from a patient of the practice on September 7, 2019. The patient had requested a copy of the medical records held by the plastic surgery practice but had not been provided with those records within the maximum time allowed by the HIPAA Privacy Rule. OCR intervened and, during the course of its investigation, Village Plastic Surgery did not provide the patient with the requested records.

OCR investigators determined that the delay in providing the records, which exceeded the 30 allowed days for acting on patient requests for their medical records, was in violation of the HIPAA Right of Access, as detailed in 45 C.F.R. § 164.524. As a result of OCR’s intervention, the patient did receive a copy of the requested records. The case was settled by Village Plastic Surgery with no admission of liability.

“OCR’s Right of Access Initiative continues to support and enforce individuals’ vital right to receive copies of their medical records in a timely manner,” said Acting OCR Director Robinsue Frohboese. “Covered entities must comply with their HIPAA obligations and OCR will take appropriate remedial actions if they do not.”

This is the 18th financial penalty to be imposed by OCR to resolve violations of the HIPAA Right of Access under its Right of Access enforcement initiative that was launched in late 2019. This is the 6th HIPAA penalty to be imposed in 2021, and the 5th to resolve a HIPAA Right of Access violation.

Author: Steve Alder has many years of experience as a journalist, and comes from a background in market research. He is a specialist on legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA. Steve holds a B.Sc. from the University of Liverpool.

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