When a patient or a patient’s representative requests a copy of medical records it is very important to act promptly. Currently you have 30 days to comply with this right of access request, and one 30-day extension (if you advise the patient/representative that you will need more time and you give them a date when they will be available). We expect this time frame to be reduced to 15 days, with one 15-day extension this year. The reason I can’t stress the importance of this enough is due to the fines that have been assessed for non-compliance. As of today, there have been 43 cases resolved under the OCR’s HIPAA Right of Access Initiative. Only a few fines were under $10K, most of the fines were upwards of $25K to $200K.
Another area that we must stress the importance of is disgruntled employees, patient complaints, and data breaches. Should your practice be investigated by the OCR because of ONE incident, they will investigate ALL areas of HIPAA compliance. It is important to stay on top of ALL areas. Don’t forget to review your website too!
One special note: If you use a Contact Us form on your website, you must use encryption on your website (https), to ensure the data transmitted is secure. Then you must review where these messages are delivered to and to which devices. Many website developers do not under the HIPAA rules and offer website features that may cause liability if not properly protected. Again, this also includes the devices utilized to receive the information and how this information is stored. If you do not receive very many of these messages, we recommend removing the liability.
In case you have not seen some examples of the fines, check out our Education Tab:
If you are using our HIPAA Keeper™ 7-step system, you are well ahead of many other practices with HIPAA documentation. If you are not using our system, Click here to find out more how our online HIPAA Keeper™ can help your organization with HIPAA Compliance.
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