The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that Life Hope Labs has agreed to pay a settlement of $16,500 to resolve potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule's right of access provision. The rule requires that patients be able to access their health information in a timely manner.
This post will cover what happened, how Life Hope Labs is going resolve the HIPAA violation, and what the right of access provision is.
Life Hope Labs is a full-service diagnostic laboratory in Sandy Springs, Georgia. In July 2021, a family member requested their deceased father's medical records form the lab. The records were not received until seven months later.
A complaint was filed with the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and a follow up investigation concluded Life Hope Labs failed to provide timely access to the requested medical records.
Resolving the HIPAA violation
Life Hope Labs agreed to implement a corrective action plan and pay $16,500 to resolve the investigation.
HIPAA Right of Access Initiative
Launched in 2019, the OCR HIPAA Right of Access Initiative is designed to, "to support individuals’ right to timely access their health records at a reasonable cost under the HIPAA Privacy Rule.” This investigation marks the 43rd case to be settled under the initiative.
According to OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer:
“Access to medical records, including lab results, empowers patients to better manage their health, communicate with their treatment teams, and adhere to their treatment plans. The HIPAA Privacy Rule gives individuals and personal representatives a right to timely access their medical records from all covered entities, including laboratories. Laboratories covered by HIPAA must follow the law and ensure that they are responding timely to records access requests.”