On March 26, 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced its eighteenth settlement with respect to its HIPAA Right of Access Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to support individuals' rights, under HIPAA, to timely access to their health records and obtain copies at a reasonable cost. Village Plastic Surgery (VPS) settled with OCR and agreed to take corrective action and pay $30,000 for their failure to provide timely access to requested medical records. This announcement reflects that OCR will likely continue to focus attention on complaints based on patients accessibility and cost of obtaining their health information.
In September 2019, a complaint was filed with OCR alleging that VPS failed to take timely action in response to a patient's records access request made in August 2019. OCR initiated an investigation and determined that VPS’s failure to provide timely access to the requested medical records was a potential violation of the HIPAA right of access standard, which requires a covered entity to take action on an access request within 30 days of receipt (or within 60 days if an extension is applicable).