Boom! Pow! Bang! Three dental practices were sacked yesterday, resulting in nasty bruises and a loss of yards on the play. After heading into the locker room and studying some film, they recognized there were some lessons to be learned in the OCR’s HIPAA Right of Access playbook.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced the completion of three investigations in its Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Right of Access Initiative.
The OCR’s HIPAA Right of Access Initiative started in 2019 to ensure patients receive their records in a timely and costly manner. With three actions in one day and a total of 20 just this year, we are seeing a 42% increase year over year in the enforcement of the Privacy Rule. The OCR’s effort has now raised the total to 41 Right of Access actions across the span of 3 years, setting a strong example for practices across the country on the importance of maintaining compliance.
OCR Director, Melanie Fontes Rainer, states, “Patients have a fundamental right under HIPAA to receive their requested medical records, in most cases, within 30 days. I hope that these actions send the message of compliance so that patients do not have to file a complaint with OCR to have their medical records requests fulfilled.”
Here is an instant replay of when three dental practices crossed the line of scrimmage:
The first dental practice had a delay of game penalty after failing to provide timely access to their former patient’s records. The former patient didn’t receive a complete copy of their records until October 2020, five months after they filed a complaint back in August 2020. This resulted in a $30,000 settlement and the implementation of a Corrective Action Plan.
The second dental practice got a 15-yard penalty for not providing a patient with a copy of her records in a timely or costly manner. The practice refused to provide the records because the patient wouldn’t pay the $170 copying fee. That’s not a fair catch! After the OCR got involved, the dental practice had to cough up $80,000 in settlement and adopt a Corrective Action Plan. Maybe they should’ve read the HIPAA Rule book!
The starting running back fumbled the ball when this practice failed to provide a mother and her son with copies of their PHI until after the play clock hit zero. After multiple requests and eight months of waiting, she finally got the medical records in her hands. The dental practice had to fork over $25,000 and implement a Corrective Action Plan.
After watching the game footage, there is a clear solution here! Make sure your practice provides patients with timely and costly access to their medical records. Six dental practices have been sacked so far in 2022, which means we have already witnessed a 600% increase solely in the dental space compared to the 2021 season. That is not a statistic you can ignore! You could be next, so we encourage you to make sure you have the right compliance measures in place to avoid these large fines. Is your game plan ready?