OCR Announces its 19th HIPAA Penalty of 2020

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has settled a HIPAA Right of Access compliance case with Peter Wrobel, M.D., P.C., doing business as Elite Primary Care.

Elite Primary Care is a provider of primary health services in Georgia. OCR launched a compliance investigation following receipt of a complaint from an Elite Primary Care patient on April 22, 2019 who alleged he had been denied access to his health records. OCR contacted the practice and provided technical assistance on the HIPAA Right of Access on May 2, 2019. OCR advised the practice to review the facts of the request and provide access to the requested records if the request met the requirements of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

The patient subsequently submitted a request for access in writing which was received by the practice on June 5, 2019. The patient filed a second complaint with OCR on October 9, 2019, as the practice continued to deny him access to his requested records.

Elite Primary Care sent the patient’s medical records to his new healthcare provider on November 21, 2019 and provided the patient with a copy of those records on May 8, 2020.

OCR concluded the delay in providing the patient with a copy of his requested records was in violation of the HIPAA Right of Access (45 C.F.R. § 164.524).

Under the terms of the settlement, Elite Primary Care will pay a financial penalty of $36,000 and adopt a corrective action plan that includes developing, implementing, maintaining, and revising, as necessary, written policies and procedures related to the HIPAA Right of Access provision of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Once those policies and procedures have been checked by OCR, training will be provided to relevant members of its workforce.

The settlement was agreed with no admission of liability. OCR will monitor Elite Primary Care for 2 years to ensure continued compliance.

This is the thirteenth settlement to be announced by OCR under its HIPAA Right of Access enforcement initiative and the nineteenth HIPAA financial penalty to be announced in 2020.

“OCR created the Right of Access Initiative to address the many instances where patients have not been given timely access to their medical records.  Health care providers, large and small, must ensure that individuals get timely access to their health records, and for a reasonable cost-based fee,” said OCR Director Roger Severino.

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.