Administration News | HHS Office Resolves More Than Half of HIPAA Complaints Without Investigation

An HHS office has resolved more than half of complaints about possible violations of the medical privacy rule issued after the passage of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act without investigation, according to a Des Moines Register review of state and federal records.
Since the rule took effect in 2003, 38,000 U.S. residents have filed complaints with the HHS Office for Civil Rights, and the office has resolved 56% of those complaints without investigation, the review found. The review also found that OCR has referred only 437 complaints, less than 2% of the total, to federal prosecutors. Abner Weintraub of the HIPAA Group said, “There are no HIPAA cops out there looking for violations,” adding, “Enforcement at the Office for Civil Rights is virtually nonexistent. Technically, they’ve still not issued a single fine — not even down to the $100 level, and they could toss those around like candy, if only to wake people up about the seriousness of compliance.”
…Deborah Peel, head of Patient Privacy Rights, also said that the rule does not include adequate restrictions on cases in which providers can share the medical records of patients without their consent…

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