Renown Health Pays $75,000 to Settle HIPAA Right of Access Case

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is continuing to crackdown on noncompliance with the HIPAA Right of Access. This week, OCR announced its fifteenth settlement to resolve a HIPAA Right of Access enforcement action.

Renown Health, a not-for-profit healthcare network in Northern Nevada, agreed to settle its HIPAA case with OCR to resolve potential violations of the HIPAA Right of Access and has agreed to pay a financial penalty of $75,000.

OCR launched an investigation after receiving a complaint from a Renown Health patient who had not been provided with an electronic copy of her protected health information. In January 2019, the patient submitted a request to Renown Health and asked for her medical and billing records to be sent to her attorney. After waiting more than a month for the records to be provided, the patient filed a complaint with OCR. It took Renown Health until December 27, 2019 to provide the requested records, almost a year after the initial request was made.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule (45 C.F.R. § 164.524) requires medical records to be provided to individuals within 30 days of a request being made. OCR determined that the delay in providing the requested records was in violation of this Privacy Rule provision.

In addition to paying the financial penalty, Renown Health has agreed to adopt a corrective action plan that requires written policies and procedures to be developed, maintained, and revised, as necessary, covering the HIPAA Right of Access. Training must be provided to the workforce on the policies and procedures, and a sanctions policy must be implemented and applied when workforce members fail to comply with the policies and procedures. OCR will monitor Renown Health for compliance with the HIPAA Right of Access for 2 years.

“Access to one’s health records is an essential HIPAA right and health care providers have a legal obligation to their patients to provide access to their health information on a timely basis,” said Acting OCR Director Robinsue Frohboese.

The settlement is the third to be announced by OCR in 2021 and follows a $200,000 settlement with Banner Health for similar HIPAA Right of Access violations and a $5,100,000 settlement with Excellus Health Plan to resolve multiple HIPAA violations that contributed to a 2015 data breach of 9,358,891 records.

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.