Nursing Facility Fined $100,000 for Delaying Patient Record Access

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has penalized a New Jersey nursing facility for failing to provide a patient’s medical records to their authorized representative in a timely manner. This case highlights the importance of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and your right to access your own medical records.

What Happened?

Hackensack Meridian Health, a skilled nursing facility in New Jersey, allegedly withheld a patient’s medical records from their son, even though he had documentation proving he was the authorized representative. The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) launched an investigation after receiving a complaint in May 2020. As a result of the investigation, the facility provided the requested records in November 2020. However, the OCR determined that Hackensack Meridian Health failed to respond to the access request within the timeframe required by HIPAA.

HIPAA and Patient Rights

HIPAA is a federal law that protects the patient’s privacy to their medical records. It also guarantees their right to access and obtain copies of those records. This means they can request and receive a copy of their medical history from any healthcare provider covered by HIPAA.

The Importance of Timely Access

Providing timely access to patients to their medical records is crucial for several reasons. It allows patients to:

  • Be actively involved in their healthcare decisions.
  • Allow patients to share medical information with other healthcare providers.
  • Provide patients the opportunity to verify the accuracy of their records.

The Penalty

For violating HIPAA’s Right of Access provision, Hackensack Meridian Health was fined $100,000. This case serves as a reminder to healthcare facilities of their obligation to comply with HIPAA regulations and ensure patients’ right to access their medical records is protected.

The Lesson

It is important for healthcare facilities to adhere to the HIPAA Privacy Rule and provide patients and their personal representatives with timely access to their medical records. Failure to comply with HIPAA can result in civil monetary penalties and other enforcement actions

For more information on this specific case, you can refer to the Notice of Proposed Determination on the HHS website: