Lab Fined $16K for Long Delay in Providing Patient RecordsLife Hope Labs in Atlanta Took 225 Days to Provide Access to the Records
Federal regulators have kicked off the New Year with a $16,000 HIPAA penalty against an Atlanta-based medical testing laboratory for failure to provide timely access to a patient records request. The lab also agreed to implement a corrective action plan under its settlement with the Department of Health and Human Services.
The agreement with Life Hope Labs - which is HHS' Office for Civil Rights' 43rd enforcement action in a "right of access" case since launching an initiative in April 2019 to improve compliance with that HIPAA provision - involves a 2021 dispute involving the records of a deceased patient.
HHS OCR says that on Aug. 24, 2021, it received a complaint against Life Hope Labs from the personal representative of a patient's estate.
The complaint alleges that Life Hope Labs failed to provide the individual with a copy of the patient's medical records in response to July 2021 access requests. Life Hope Labs did not send the requested records until Feb. 16, 2022 - 225 days after the initial access request.
Under the resolution agreement with HHS OCR, Life Hope Labs also agreed to implement a corrective action plan, including revising and implementing policies and procedures to comply with the HIPAA privacy rule, and to distribute those policies and provide related training to its workforce and business associates involved in fulfilling patient record access requests.
“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," says Melanie Fontes Rainer, HHS OCR director, in a statement.
"The HIPAA Privacy Rule gives individuals and personal representatives a right to timely access to their medical records from all covered entities, including laboratories," she says.
Last month, HHS OCR also slapped a primary care practice, Health Specialists of Central Florida, with a $20,000 settlement and corrective action plan in the wake of a November 2019 complaint that the provider took four months and 29 days to respond to an Orlando woman's request for access to her deceased father's medical records (see: Medical Practice Pays $20K to Settle 'Right of Access' Case).