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HHS Office for Civil Rights Imposes a Civil Monetary Penalty on New Jersey Nursing Facility for Failing to Provide Timely Access to Patient Records

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), announced a $100,000 civil monetary penalty against Essex Residential Care, LLC, doing business as Hackensack Meridian Health, West Caldwell Care Center (“Hackensack Meridian Health”), a skilled nursing facility that provides long-term care and rehabilitation services. OCR investigated Hackensack Meridian Health under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule for failing to provide a patient’s personal representative with timely access to the patient’s medical records.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule is the federal law that establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records, sets limits and conditions on the uses and disclosures of protected health information, and gives individuals certain rights, including the right to timely access and obtain a copy of their health records. Today’s action resolves a matter where patient records were not provided in a timely manner.

“A patient’s timely access to health records is paramount for medical care. The Office for Civil Rights continues to receive complaints from individuals and personal representatives on behalf of individuals who do not receive timely access to their health records,” said OCR Director Melanie Fontes Rainer. “OCR will continue to vigorously enforce this essential right to ensure compliance by health care facilities across the country.”

In May 2020, OCR received a complaint alleging that Hackensack Meridian Health failed to provide a personal representative with access to his mother’s medical records. The records were allegedly withheld even after Hackensack Meridian Health received sufficient documentation demonstrating that the son was serving as his mother’s personal representative. The requested records were sent to the personal representative in November 2020, as a result of OCR’s investigation.

OCR found that Hackensack Meridian Health failed to respond timely to a HIPAA right of access request. In September 2023, OCR issued a Notice of Proposed Determination seeking to impose a civil money penalty. Hackensack Meridian Health waived its right to a hearing and did not contest OCR’s findings. Accordingly, OCR imposed a civil money penalty of $100,000.

The Notice of Proposed Determination may be found at:

The Notice of Final Determination may be found at:

OCR’s guidance on the HIPAA right of access is available at:

OCR’s guidance on the HIPAA Privacy Rule and personal representatives is available at:

OCR is committed to enforcing the HIPAA Rules that protect the privacy and security of peoples’ health information. Guidance about the Privacy RuleSecurity Rule, and Breach Notification Rule can also be found on OCR’s website.

If you believe that your or another person’s health information privacy or civil rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with OCR at: