Health Information Management

PPV: Properly handle an OCR investigation into a patient complaint

HIM-HIPAA Insider, October 23, 2007

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A disgruntled patient accuses you of failing to protect his or her protected health information, and thereby violating his or her rights under the HIPAA privacy rule. However, rather than complaining directly to you, the patient goes to HHS' Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to air his or her grievances. You soon receive a letter from OCR outlining the complaint and demanding that you explain your actions and what you plan to do to resolve the situation.

"There are times when healthcare providers are blindsided by these complaints," says Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, of Brandt & Associates in Bellaire, TX. Patients are not obligated to complain to the healthcare provider before submitting a grievance to the federal government-they can bypass the provider and go straight to OCR.

Editor's note: For more tips and information on handling a patient complaint to the OCR, click here. Subscribers to Health Information Compliance Insider can read the full article in the November 2007 issue. You can also purchase this article for $10 by clicking on the link above.

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