HHS Cracks Down on Care Facilities for Failure to Turn Over Medical Records

HHS Cracks Down on Care Facilities for Failure to Turn Over Medical Records


Office for Civil Rights fines two facilities that stalled on giving access for more than 100 days

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has settled two cases involving healthcare facilities that failed to provide timely access to medical records.

OCR announced settlements with Essex Residential Careopens in a new tab or window in New Jersey (doing business as Hackensack Meridian Health, West Caldwell Care Center) and Phoenix Healthcareopens in a new tab or window in Oklahoma (doing business as Green County Care Center).

Both care facilities failed to provide medical records to a patient’s personal representative within 30 days as mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), OCR stated.

“It is unacceptable for a healthcare provider to delay or deny requests to release medical records for months, and we are calling on providers everywhere to be compliant to help empower patients,” OCR director Melanie Fontes Rainer, JD, said in a statement.

On Monday, OCR announcedopens in a new tab or window that West Caldwell Care Center (WCCC) — a skilled nursing facility that provides long-term care and rehabilitation services — would have to pay a $100,000 penalty for not providing timely access to patient records.

According to the agency’s notice of final determination, Peter Lindsay requested a copy of his mother’s medical records from WCCC via email. His request was denied on April 22, 2020, and an administrator asked for a copy of his power of attorney, medical proxy, or similar document signed by his mother, Lois Lindsay, establishing him as her representative.

Peter Lindsay sent the power of attorney via email on April 23, 2020, but still didn’t receive any records. He filed a complaint with OCR on May 19, 2020, alleging WCCC and its parent company failed to give him access to his mother’s medical records, even after providing proof of his status as her representative.

Peter Lindsay finally received a copy of the records on Dec. 1, 2020, as a result of an OCR investigation — 161 days after his initial request, the determination stated.

Late last week, OCR announced that Phoenix Healthcare in Oklahoma will pay $35,000 to settle claims that it didn’t provide access to patient medical records in a timely fashion.

In this case, a daughter who was not named filed a complaint with OCR alleging that Phoenix Healthcare wouldn’t give her access to medical records for her mother as her representative.

After attempts at “technical assistance” and “attempts to get the records by OCR,” the facility provided the records on Jan. 30, 2020 — 323 days after the initial request, according to an OCR press releaseopens in a new tab or window.

“The Office for Civil Rights continues to receive complaints from individuals and personal representatives on behalf of individuals who do not receive timely access to their health records,” Fontes Rainer said in a statement. “OCR will continue to vigorously enforce this essential right to ensure compliance by healthcare facilities across the country.”

Leave a Reply

Discover more from PHARMACIST STEVE

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading