HHS OCR Imposes a Civil Monetary Penalty on Essex Residential Care for Failing to Provide Timely Access to Patient Records

Hackensack Meridian Health and West Caldwell Care Center (WCCC) have been issued a final civil money penalty (CMP) of $100,000 by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The OCR has the authority to impose this penalty under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). WCCC has chosen not to contest the findings and waive its right to a hearing. As a result, the CMP is now considered final, and WCCC cannot appeal this decision.

In their announcement, OCR said this action was “prompted by a May 2020, OCR complaint alleging that Hackensack Meridian Health failed to provide a personal representative with access to his mother’s medical records. The records were allegedly withheld even after Hackensack Meridian Health received sufficient documentation demonstrating that the son was serving as his mother’s personal representative. The requested records were sent to the personal representative in November 2020, as a result of OCR’s investigation.”

Further, they said:
“A patient’s timely access to health records is paramount for medical care. The Office for Civil Rights continues to receive complaints from individuals and personal representatives on behalf of individuals who do not receive timely access to their health records,” said OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer. “OCR will continue to vigorously enforce this essential right to ensure compliance by health care facilities across the country.”

The full payment of $100,000 is due upon receipt of the Notice of Final Determination, and failure to pay may result in a civil action being brought against WCCC in the United States District Court. This action is taken against WCCC for violating the Privacy Rule regulations under HIPAA. The Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services has delegated enforcement responsibility for the Privacy Rule to the Director of OCR. For any inquiries, please contact Linda C. Colón, Regional Manager, OCR, Eastern and Caribbean Region.

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), announced a $100,000 civil monetary penalty against Essex Residential Care, LLC, doing business as Hackensack Meridian Health, West Caldwell Care Center (“Hackensack Meridian Health”), a skilled nursing facility that provides long-term care and rehabilitation services. OCR investigated Hackensack Meridian Health under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule for failing to provide a patient’s personal representative with timely access to the patient’s medical records.

Original Post: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2024/04/01/hhs-office-civil-rights-imposes-civil-monetary-penalty-new-jersey-nursing-facility-failing-provide-timely-access-patient-records.html