Although HIPAA doesn’t require providers to grant patient access to psychotherapy notes, it does require them to (1) to provide requestors a written explanation when it denies any records request in whole or in part (which RPMG did not do), and (2) to provide the individual access to his or her medical records other than psychotherapy notes (and information compiled in reasonable anticipation of, or for use in, a civil, criminal, or administrative action or proceeding).
In October 2020, the patient finally received the copies of the medical records that she requested, excluding the psychotherapy notes. “When patients request copies of their health records, they must be given a timely response, not a run-around,” said OCR Director Roger Severino.
To read more about the HIPAA right of access settlement, please click here.
What is the HIPAA Right of Access?
The right of access requires healthcare providers to provide requested records to patients, or their personal representative, within 30 days of the request. Records must be provided in the format requested (i.e., paper, electronic medical records, etc.) unless the provider cannot reasonably do so, in which case an alternative format is acceptable. Under the right of access, providers can charge a cost-based fee for access to records, such as if the patient requests records to be provided on a CD, the provider can charge for the cost of the CD. As mentioned above, providers are not required to provide patients access to psychotherapy notes.