Its understandable that many people become frustrated when they try to get their own medical records from doctors or hospitals, but the providers charge exorbitant fees. This is despite the fact that most of these records are kept and stored electronically, and so should be very easy to transfer to the patient. A potential solution is to request records electronically pursuant to the HITECH Act also known as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. Many people know that medical records are protected as private as part of the HIPAA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The HITECH Act is merely a part of this law, but provides for a much cheaper way to receive one’s medical records electronically. It should not be too surprising that many medical providers are aggressively pursuing their perceived right to substantial fees for providing these medical records. This includes third party contractors that hospitals and doctors use to handle their records handling. Many insist that the records are only kept in paper format and they don’t have the means to provide them electronically. Under the rule, the fees that can be charged can be no greater then the labor costs in of formatting the records electronically.
Running into Problems?
When you run into resistance from the various medical providers when they refuse to provide the records at a low cost there are remedies that do not include a specific cause of action against those providers. Instead the state attorney general can enforce this particular law as can the Health and Human Services Agency. In order to file a complaint for non compliance you can look to the federal regulations at 45 C.F.R. § 160.404(b). We can also provide one upon inquiry by emailing us or contacting us. Just remember that the law is complex and is a creature of congressional compromise so they may not provide low cost records in all cases and results may vary. Important guidance on the rule can be found here.