On September 20, 2022, the Office of Civil Rights announced three settlements with three different dental practices related to failure to timely provide patients with their requested medical records:
- A Chicago dental practice agreed to a $30,000 fine and a corrective action plan. A former patient received only part of her medical record when requested and did not receive her full medical record until five months after her initial request.
- A Georgia dental practice agreed to an $80,000 fine and a corrective action plan. The practice required the patient to pay an unreasonable copying fee before providing the patient with the requested records.
- A Las Vegas dental practice agreed to a $25,000 fine and a corrective action plan. The practice provided the patient records eight months after the initial request for records.
Monetary fine, reputational issues, overhead/ resources
This announcement presents an opportunity to highlight the importance of timely and appropriately responding to a patient’s request for their own medical records, as well as some issues that arise with patient requests. Generally, patients have a legally enforceable right to see, inspect, and receive copies of their own medical records upon request. The record includes medical record documentation from other providers that you have in your records to the extent that they are used to make decisions about a patient’s care. You may require patient requests to be made in writing, as long as you previously informed the patient of this requirement. You can also require a patient to use your written request form, as long as it does not create a barrier to or unreasonably delay patient access to the medical records. You cannot require a patient to be physically present at your office to request access, mail a request, or use a web portal to make the request. Records should be produced within thirty days of the initial request, although HIPAA permits an additional 30-day period under certain circumstances. Fees are limited to the labor for copying the records, the cost of supplies, and postage. Fees are not permitted for costs associated with searching for and retrieving the PHI, maintaining systems, storage, or documentation. The best way to assure compliance is to address the process and procedures in a practice policy to be followed by your staff.
ABOUT MAGGIE DICOSTANZO
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Maggie DiCostanzo is a principal attorney in Offit Kurman’s Healthcare practice group. For nearly 20 years she has focused her legal practice by representing physicians, hospitals, post-acute care facilities, and other healthcare professionals, delivering health law advice and counseling as well as representation in regulatory, general liability, and professional liability matters. She is also a registered patent attorney with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, and drafts licensing agreements and other intellectual property-related documents. Ms. DiCostanzo also assists lawyers in Offit Kurman’s other practice groups, including Business Law and Transactions, to address discreet healthcare issues.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 18 offices and more than 250 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit www.offitkurman.com.
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