For the second time this month, the HHS Office for Civil Rights has fined a provider for failing to make a patient’s medical records available to them promptly and within fee guidelines as required by HIPAA. Florida-based Korunda Medical, which offers primary care and interventional pain management services, has agreed to pay the OCR $85,000 and take corrective actions to settle charges that it violated HIPAA right of access provisions.
Korunda’s deal with the OCR follows an early December announcement that Sentara Hospitals had agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle allegations that it had failed to notify HHS properly of a breach of its patients’ unsecured protected health information.
These are the first two cases OCR is pursuing after kicking off its Right of Access Initiative, in which the agency is going after providers that don’t give patients their records quickly enough, overcharge them for sharing the records or fail to provide copies of the records in the patient’s chosen format.
Korunda came to OCR’s attention in March 2019, when the agency got a complaint from one of its patients. The patient claimed that Korunda had never forwarded a copy of their records to a third party despite their making the request several times. This seemed to land Korunda in violation of the right of access requirements. In response, OCR gave Korunda technical assistance on how to address the problems cited in the complaint, then dropped the matter.
However, it seems that despite OCR’s involvement, Korunda still wasn’t complying with the right of access rules, which led to another complaint to OCR. When OCR intervened again, Korunda provided the records to the requestor at no cost and in the format requested.
However, by this point OCR was apparently out of patience with Korunda, which it seemingly saw as part of a larger group of providers who have “slow-walked their duty to provide patients their records out of a sleepy bureaucratic inertia,” according to OCR director Roger Severino, who’s quoted in an HHS release announcing the Korunda settlement.
As is standard in such cases, in addition to paying the fine, Korunda will participate in a corrective action plan requiring it to thoroughly address the causes of its record-production problems.