The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced on May 8 that David Mente, a Pittsburgh psychotherapist, has paid $15,000 to settle a violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. OCR has been pursuing its so-called Right of Access Initiative since 2019, as previously discussed here.
Incredibly, some healthcare providers continue not to provide patients with timely access to their medical records upon request. HIPAA generally requires covered entities to provide copies of patients’ health information within 30 days after receiving a request.
OCR investigated Mente after a father complained in 2017 that Mente would not provide copies of three minor children’s medical records. OCR “provided technical assistance to Mente” (i.e., advised him of his obligations under HIPAA) and closed the complaint, but then Mente again failed to respond to the father’s request for the records.
After OCR’s second investigation, Mente finally agreed to respond to the records request and to implement a corrective action plan. In OCR’s press release, OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer said, “It should not take an individual or their parent representative nearly six years and multiple complaints to gain access to patient records.”
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