Refusal to release my medical records.

on 4/25/12 1:37 pm - VA
RNY on 09/14/11 with
 We moved from one town to another and switched PCP.  With my pre wLS co-morbidities it is probably a decent size.

Just found out that they won't release my or my family's medical records without a hefty fee!  I'm so steamed.  We looked it up and apparently this extortion is legal.  

We've never been charged before when it was going straight from doctor to doctor but this doc.'s office is charging 50c. a copy for the first 50 sheets and 25c every other sheet. Plus postage because they don't fax.  In this day and age it should all be electronic but that's another story I guess.

I'm not bloody paying it.  I think it's a disgrace and another reason I don't like for profit health care but again - another story.

HW: 218, SW: 204, CW: 139 GW: 112-119

on 4/25/12 1:44 pm
Hmmmm, I am in Canada and we have social health care.  If we change doctors or if our doctor passes away or retires and we want our medical records we also have to personally pay for the copying service.  The medical records belong to the doctor.  You have the right to keep your own notes too and ask for copies of any lab results, etc.

Personally I would ask to know how many pages are in each file and be provided with the cost of the file beforehand to help with the decision-making.

on 4/25/12 1:48 pm - Wiesbaden, Germany
DS on 10/08/13
It's actually become fairly standard for medical practices to charge these fees.

It's cheaper to pay the fees than repeat medical tests and procedures.

Suggest you get the records and run a copy of them for the gaining PCP and retaining the other copy for yourself.  Also, take the time to review them.  I had to get a copy of my medical records from my original bariatric surgeon and pages from other patients were mixed in.
on 4/25/12 1:59 pm - Carmichael, CA
DS on 12/03/12
I've been told that they can fax to another doctor for free but if I wanted my records I'd have to pay for their copying fee. The last place didn't even include everything in the records they gave me so now I've learned to keep copies of everything myself. It is worth paying for them because you never know who is saying what about you and you never know with insurance when you might need proof of something. I thought my doctor was writing down details of my diet but when I got the records I found out she wasn't. Good luck
on 4/27/12 5:39 am - VA
RNY on 09/14/11 with
 yeah, they told me they can't/won't fax the records.  My new office don't charge the patients and everything in in e-records, but I may just get copies of the important stuff from now on.

HW: 218, SW: 204, CW: 139 GW: 112-119

on 4/25/12 3:28 pm
 I live in ct and work in the medical field I have never been charged for records/ copies and you have every right to ur records as long as u sign a release form from the dr to send them to another dr! And the have something like a 7 day wait usually. People are crazy anything to get money it's not like they haven't got enough money from u for just being a patient with them. Good luck their just pissed ur not their patient anymore
on 4/27/12 5:43 am - VA
RNY on 09/14/11 with
 Yeah, this is Virginia and I think this probably varies from state to state.  We looked it up and this isn't covered by hippa.  They are allowed to charge a "reasonable fee" whatever that means.  I think they are already well compensated between my co-pays and insurance pay outs, but state law allows them to extort like this.

Lesson learned.  Even though my new practice chooses not to do this and it's all electronic there anyway, I am going to get my own copies from now on of the important stuff for my own record.

HW: 218, SW: 204, CW: 139 GW: 112-119

on 4/25/12 3:36 pm
I suspect it's not just being money hungry. The cost of the overhead for a medical office is a lot, and it takes a lot of staff time to copy a record and send it.

I like the suggestions of getting a copy for yourself. And maybe you can look through your chart and weed out what doesn't need to be sent.

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly." Richard Bach

"Support fosters your growth. If you are getting enough of the right support, you will experience a major transformation in yourself. You will discover a sense of empowerment and peace you have never before experienced. You will come to believe you can overcome your challenges and find some joy in this world." Katie Jay

Valerie G.
on 4/25/12 4:37 pm - Northwest Mountains, GA
Ask the doc if they are using an EHR and if they can find anything on your health records.

 9 years post op DS 
There is room on this earth for all of God's to the mashed potatoes

on 4/25/12 5:06 pm - Wiesbaden, Germany
DS on 10/08/13

Yanno, one of my former medical providers used an electronic records system and was nice enough to give me a CD with my files when I moved on.  I think the records were in pdf format.

on 4/27/12 5:45 am - VA
RNY on 09/14/11 with
 They should do that but don't.  My new doctor does though and they don't charge but I'm still going to start compiling my own record from now on, just in case they change their policy or the state of VA decides "reasonable charges" to be $2/sheet or somthing!

HW: 218, SW: 204, CW: 139 GW: 112-119

on 4/25/12 6:04 pm - OH
Yeah, it is legal for them to charge a fee (the fee is supposed to be "reasonable" but I don't think the term "reasonable" is defined in the law) for copies of medical records.  They typically do not charge a fee when sending copies of records to other docs, but often do charge a fee when giving records directly to patients.

I needed to get copies of all my past medical records back when I was applying for SSDI.  What I did to keep the cost down was go through records and request specific documents.  That might be helpful for you, if your new doc needs some info but you don't want to pay for the entire file.  You can just select what you feel is most necessary and pay for copies of that.

View more of my photos at          Kelly

Please note: I AM NOT A DOCTOR.  If you want medical advice, talk to your doctor.  Whatever I post, there is probably some surgeon or other health care provider somewhere that disagrees with me.  If you want to know what your surgeon thinks, then ask him or her.    Check out my blog.


on 4/27/12 5:47 am - VA
RNY on 09/14/11 with
 Yeah, this is what happened before when I moved up here a couple of years ago.  That office didn't charge me because the info was going to my new doctor..and said they would only charge for stuff I wanted myself -which is fair enough.

I'm going to wait and see if there is anything this new doctor needs and just get that on a as needed basis.  It's like hubby says some of these pages have little more than your name on them.  Why pay for that?

HW: 218, SW: 204, CW: 139 GW: 112-119

on 4/26/12 2:23 am - FL

Not always the case, but in many instances if the doctor requests the records there is not a charge.  it's generally seen as a professional courtesy one physician provides to another.

Anyhow, if the physician's office was not the original requester, maybe have them give it a shot. 

With regard to "for profit" health care.  Please keep in mind that health care is a business, and  like any other business it will fail without the necessary compensation.

Sadly, one of the biggest reasons health care is so expensive is a result of those paying for those who don't pay.  In order to keep the doors open, the cost has got to be placed upon those who are paying...
on 4/27/12 5:51 am - VA
RNY on 09/14/11 with
 Nah, sadly the request did come from my new doc and professional courtesy isn't coming into it with this old office who won't fax or put anything on e-records.  New office not like that.

While I disagree with you about health care being a business, I do agree with the reason of at least part of the expense (at least over here) being because not everyone is paying into the system.

HW: 218, SW: 204, CW: 139 GW: 112-119

on 4/27/12 2:01 pm
There is not currently any one national e-record. All medical groups use different e-providers and they do not match up with each other.

This is my job taking paper-charts and converting to e-charts for hospital based medical practices. They just changed vendors and the old system is not compatible with the new systems so we have two systems in place. If I want data that is over 2 years old I have to exit the new system, enter the old system, retrieve the info and either type it into the chart or print and rescan into the new system.

So until we have one e-record mandated by law, many medical practioners can not accept e-record transfers unless it is the same vendor and same year. So everything coming into our office even if it was generated electronically at another office still has to be scanned into the record. That said luckily we are a large multi-speciality hospital and soon (the next two years) all the subspecialists will be on board with one patient chart.

Medicine is a business, that has only become more cumbersome over the years and truly with electronic medical records it has become even more so. You have IT technicians, EMR record clerks, scanners, cost of computers for each staff member in an office. Then their is the purchase and upgrades needed for each EMR systems. They are horrifically expensive and that cost drives up the cost of care. It is these costs and the increasing overhead, salary increases and expectations, soaring malpractice costs that have made most physicians in our area of NY no longer independent but employees of hospital based groups.

Gratitude is my attitude

Amanda-DS October 2001
highest >350/342 start of wls journey/ 192 @8years

on 4/28/12 8:51 am - VA
RNY on 09/14/11 with
 Sounds like a nightmare. You are right, medicine IS a business, at least in the US. I was referring more to what I think it ought to be, rather than what it is. 

HW: 218, SW: 204, CW: 139 GW: 112-119

on 4/26/12 6:00 am
Wow, almost an insult to be charged for your records. However, you should remember you are worth the investment, pay for the records and learn from it.
Keep a copy for yourself, as you may need it one day. Then from time to time, ask for a copy of what your new doctor has added.
You never know when you may need a copy of your medical records.
Sadly, everything has become so expensive that someone has to pay. Where will the line finally be drawn? It is crazy!
on 4/26/12 6:28 am
RNY on 08/01/11 with

It is legal to be charged a fee for copies of your medical records.

They cannot withhold your medical records if you pay the fee and/or sign a release.

on 4/26/12 8:54 am
They haven't really refused you your medical records, they cannot do that.  It is legal for them to charge a fee to copy the files.  My suggestion is have your new PCP fax over a request to get copies sometimes the fee can be avoided by them requesting and you signing the request instead of you directly asking for copies.

I moved several years ago and I did pay a small fee to get copies (8 years worth) of my records.  If I recall the total fee was $35 which I gladly paid.  I kept a copy for my records and provided a copy to my new PCP.

Proximal RNY Lap - 02/21/05

 9 years committed ~  100% EWL and Maintaining