New York practitioner settles potential violation of HIPAA Privacy Rule's right of access standard

Washington — A private practitioner specializing in otolaryngology in Regal Park, New York, has agreed to take corrective action and pay $15,000 to settle a potential violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule's right of access standard, according to a news release by the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The settlement was the Office for Civil Rights’ 11th settlement of an enforcement action in its HIPAA Right of Access Initiative. It announced this initiative as an enforcement priority in 2019 to support individuals’ rights to timely access to their health records at a reasonable cost under the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

In September 2018, the Office for Civil Rights received a complaint alleging that Dr. Rajendra Bhayani failed to provide a patient with access to her medical records following a request in July 2018, according to the release.

The Office for Civil Rights responded by providing Dr. Bhayani with technical assistance on complying with HIPAA’s right of access requirements and closed the complaint.

However, in July 2019, the OCR received a second complaint alleging that Dr. Bhayani still had not provided the complainant with access to her records and determined that Dr. Bhayani’s failure to provide the requested medical records was a potential violation of the HIPAA right of access standard, the Office for Civil Rights said.

As a result of the investigation, the complainant received a complete copy of her medical records in September 2020.

“Doctor’s offices, large and small, must provide patients their medical records in a timely fashion,” Roger Severino, Office for Civil Rights director said in the release. “We will continue to prioritize HIPAA right of access cases for enforcement until providers get the message.”

In addition to the monetary settlement, Dr. Bhayani will undertake a corrective action plan that includes two years of monitoring.