The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced today that Parkview Health System, Inc. has agreed to pay $800,000 and adopt a corrective action plan to settle potential violations of the HIPAA Privacy Rule based on the handling and disposal of a physician’s medical records. Parkview is a nonprofit health care system that provides community-based health care services to individuals in northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio.
According to its press release, the OCR opened an investigation after receiving a complaint from a retiring physician regarding the handling of his patient’s medical records. In September 2008, Parkview had taken custody of medical records pertaining to approximately 5,000 to 8,000 patients while assisting the retiring physician to transition her patients to new providers, and while considering the possibility of purchasing some of the physician’s practice. The OCR commented that Parkview employees, with notice that the physician was not at home, left 71 cardboard boxes of medical records unattended and accessible to unauthorized persons on the driveway of the physician’s home, which was also within 20 feet of the public road and a short distance away from a heavily trafficked public shopping venue.
Christina Heide, acting deputy director of health information privacy at OCR commented that “It is imperative that HIPAA covered entities and their business associates protect patient information during its transfer and disposal.”
In addition to the $800,000 resolution amount, the settlement includes a corrective action plan requiring Parkview to revise their policies and procedures, train staff, and provide an implementation report to OCR.
A copy of the OCR’s press release, and the Resolution Agreement are accessible on the OCR’s web site at: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2014pres/06/20140623a.html.
Written by: Clay J. Countryman