A medical laboratory is the latest health care provider nailed under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Right of Access Initiative for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule’s right of access requirements.
OCR announced the 43rd access rule settlement with Life Hope Labs, LLC (“Life Hope Labs”), a full-service diagnostic laboratory in Sandy Springs, Georgia Tuesday.
In August 2021, a complaint was filed with OCR alleging that Life Hope Labs would not provide a personal representative with a copy of her deceased father’s medical records. The personal representative first requested access to her father’s records on July 7, 2021, but did not receive them until February 16, 2022, over seven months later. OCR’s investigation determined that Life Hope Labs’ failure to provide timely access to the requested medical records was a potential violation of the HIPAA right of access provision.
The access rule requires that patients be able to access their health information in a timely manner.
In its Resolution Agreement, Life Hope Labs agreed to pay $16,500 to resolve this investigation. In addition to the monetary settlement, Life Hope Labs also agreed to implement a corrective action plan that includes two years of monitoring by OCR.
In announcing its filing of the settlement, OCR warned other labs and health care providers to ensure their right of access compliance.
“Access to medical records, including lab results, empowers patients to better manage their health, communicate with their treatment teams, and adhere to their treatment plans. The HIPAA Privacy Rule gives individuals and personal representatives a right to timely access their medical records from all covered entities, including laboratories,” said OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer in OCR’s announcement of the settlement. “Laboratories covered by HIPAA must follow the law and ensure that they are responding timely to records access requests.”
If your organization would like to learn more about the concerns discussed in this update, contact management attorney and consultant Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.
An attorney Board Certified in Labor & Employment Law by Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Ms. Stamer is recognized for work helping organizations management people, operations and risk as a Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel, a “Top Woman Lawyer,” “Top Rated Lawyer,” and “LEGAL LEADER™” in Labor and Employment Law and Health Care Law; a “Best Lawyers” in “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: ERISA & Employee Benefits,” “Health Care” and “Business and Commercial Law.”
For 35 years, Ms. Stamer’s work has focused on advising and assisting businesses and business leaders with these and other employment and other staffing, employee benefit, compensation, risk, performance and compliance management and other operational solutions and concerns. Her experience includes helping management both manage performance and manage legal risk and compliance. While helping businesses define and manage the conduct and performance of their employees, contractors and vendors, she also assists employers and others about compliance with federal and state equal employment opportunity, compensation, health and other employee benefit, workplace safety, leave, and other labor and employment laws, advises and defends businesses against labor and employment, employee benefit, compensation, fraud and other regulatory compliance and other related audits, investigations and litigation, charges, audits, claims and investigations by the IRS, Department of Labor, Department of Justice, SEC, Federal Trade Commission, HUD, HHS, DOD, Departments of Insurance, and other federal and state regulators. Ms. Stamer also speaks, coaches management and publishes extensively on these and other related matters. For additional information about Ms. Stamer and her experience or to access other publications by Ms. Stamer see hereor contact Ms. Stamer directly.
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