This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced that St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center (St. Joe’s) has agreed to pay a $160,000 fine and 2 years of monitoring for failing to provide a patient with his entire medical record for nearly 2 years. The OCR determined that St. Joe’s committed a possible violation of HIPAA by failing to provide the entire medical record to the patient. In addition to the fine, St. Joe’s provided the OCR with a 2-year corrective action plan to ensure proper compliance with HIPAA and grants 2 years of federal government monitoring over St. Joe’s to ensure compliance with the plan. OCR Director Roger Severino was quoted saying, “It shouldn’t take a federal investigation to secure access to patient medical records, but too often that’s what it takes when healthcare providers don’t take their HIPAA obligations seriously.”
A recent JAMA medical journal article found that many healthcare providers, not just St. Joe’s, are failing to follow the HIPAA requirements to provide the patient’s entire medical record. This is a disturbing trend that hopefully will soon be reversed.