HIPAA Patient Rights
One important aspect of HIPAA is that it gives patient rights. Covered entities are responsible for looking after the rights of their patients.
HIPAA provides patients with a number of rights with respect to their Protected Health Information (PHI). For example, patients have the right to request additional restrictions on the disclosure and use of their PHI. These requests need to be reviewed by the HIPAA Compliance Officer who is not required to honor the request. Similarly, patients have the right to request changes to their records, but medical practices do not have to honor the request if the record is complete and accurate, or if the information the patient seeks to amend was obtained from another provider.
Under HIPAA patients have the right to obtain an accounting of the Covered Entity’s disclosures of PHI from the Covered Entity. Under HITECH, medical practices must provide an accounting of disclosures made for payment, treatment or health care operations; disclosures to the patient; or incidental disclosures made in the course of a required or permitted disclosure.
Patients also have a right, with some exceptions, to inspect and copy their records. Exceptions include situations in which the records include psychotherapy notes and situations in which records were prepared in connection with legal proceedings. In some situations, a medical practice’s refusal to provide access to information can entitle the patient to challenge the refusal through a review process. Medical practices may charge their patients a “reasonable, cost-based fee” for copying and providing the records.
Finally, patients have a right to receive the HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices.
Failure to abide by the HIPAA patient rights regulations can end in the patient reporting a complaint to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR). A complaint made to the HHS OCR can end in the practice being audited and fined in the case that willful neglect is found.
At Vitruvian MedPro we help medical practices stay out of willful neglect by providing HIPAA Compliance consulting services. Reach out to us to review your current HIPAA Compliance Program. A free consultation of 30 minutes or less will let you know whether your practice would be found under willful neglect in the case of an audit.