Patient’s Guide to HIPAA – Basic Rights: Will Filing a Complaint Really Help?




You are reading the Patient’s Guide to HIPAA, FAQ 48

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FAQ 48: Will Filing a Complaint Really Help?

There’s now a reasonable chance that filing a complaint will produce a response and may lead to action. For a long time, enforcement of the Rule by the Office of Civil Rights was rare. In the last few years, OCR has become much more aggressive in enforcing the HIPAA privacy and security rules. Some of the penalties imposed on covered entities run in to the millions of dollars. If you file a complaint, it should receive appropriate attention. Remember, however, that the Privacy Rule complaint process is for HIPAA complaints. OCR receives and rejects many complaints because they are not about HIPAA matters.

We wouldn’t hesitate to file a complaint if we thought that a covered entity violated HIPAA.  But we remind you that filing a complaint may have the effect of spreading your health information around more widely. Not all complaint investigations will involve disclosure of the intimate details of your medical history, but some may. It is for you to judge whether a complaint will invade your privacy more than you can tolerate. Nevertheless, if you are just trying to get a hospital to respond to your request for a copy of your record, the additional threat to privacy may be small and your complaint to OCR may help you get what you want.



Roadmap: Patient’s Guide to HIPAA: Part 2: Basic Patient Rights: Right to Complain to the Secretary of HHS (FAQ 48 of 65)

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