A Florida hospital paid the HHS $85,000 to settle an alleged violation of a patient's right to see the prenatal health records of her unborn baby, HHS said on Monday.
The hospital, Bayfront Health in St. Petersburg, Fla., didn't admit to wrongdoing, but agreed to an action plan with the HHS Office of Civil Rights over its potential breach of a HIPAA requirement where providers are supposed to give their patients requested medical records within 30 days and without a hefty charge.
The patient who lodged the complaint with the federal government was a pregnant woman who had sent a written request for the fetal heart monitor records for her unborn baby in October 2017. The hospital at the time told her it didn't find these records.
After Bayfront and the patient's attorney continued discussing the issue for over a year, the federal agency investigated. Bayfront gave the mother the fetal heart monitor records she asked for in February 2019.
The Office of Civil Rights' enforcement action is part of its HIPAA "Right of Access Initiative" announced earlier this year. The initiative is supposed to "rigorously enforce" the ability of patients to see their records. The rights extend to parents of minor children.
"Providing patients with their health information not only lowers costs and leads to better health outcomes, it's the law," said Roger Severino, director of the Office of Civil Rights. "We aim to hold the healthcare industry accountable for ignoring peoples' rights to access their medical records and those of their kids."