Looks like the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) just decided to play a quick round of 18 – announcing their 18th right of access settlement (and second of the week) with yet another practice whose HIPAA compliance efforts were well below par.
Village Plastic Surgery (“VPS”) was the latest to tee off against the OCR in a matchup that resulted in a $30,000 fine and two year corrective action plan. And with the 17th right of access settlement announced only two days ago – the tough loss endured by the New Jersey-based provider was just par for the course.
The round began back in September of 2019, after a patient filed an all too familiar complaint to the OCR that the practice had failed to respond to their record request that was made a month prior. Unlike previous settlements where the organization was first provided with technical assistance, all it took was a single patient complaint for the OCR to determine that VPS failed to meet right of access standards – setting the tone that there are no mulligans when it comes to a HIPAA violation.
It’s pretty clear that if you’re not meeting HIPAA requirements, becoming the next opponent on the OCR’s lineup is anyone’s game. But if two fines in one week don’t drive the point home, maybe the latest statement from OCR Director Robinsue Frohboese will be right on target: “OCR’s Right of Access Initiative continues to support and enforce individuals’ vital right to receive copies of their medical records in a timely manner, covered entities must comply with their HIPAA obligations and OCR will take appropriate remedial actions if they do not.”
So, with $5,540,000 collected in HIPAA fines just in 2021 alone and patient right of access being a clear government focus – ensuring that your practice’s compliance program is up to par is the best and only way to steer clear of the next round of OCR enforcement.