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Overcharging for Medical Records

A fire department surgeon is fined $10,000 for charging a patient $66 extra to provide his medical records. The patient was an 89-year-old man, who had requested his medical records from the surgeon. In the state of New York, any person can request copies of his or her medical records.

The person simply has to pay 75 cents per page as copying costs, as per the rules and regulations of the state. This particular surgeon decided that he was going to charge the patient $100 flat fee. The regulations prohibit this, a doctor cannot charge administrative or processing fees, and the maximum amount that can be charged in New York is 75 cents per page. And administrative fees do not cost $100 for such a simple task anyhow. If they do, something is seriously wrong.

Heavy Fine for Charging Extra Fees

When the accounts were tallied up, this patient should have been charged $33.75 (even this seems to be high). The patient filed a complaint with the city of New York, and because of that, there was an investigation. The doctor was adamant on charging a flat fee. However, the City of New York made it clear that the maximum amount to be charged was already fixed by law, and since the patient was overcharged, the City fined the doctor $10,000.

Hence, for charging the extra sum of approximately $66, the doctor had to pay a fine for ten thousand dollars, as the laws are very strict about how much a patient can be charged for getting copies of his or her medical records. Doctors or hospitals cannot include any processing or administrative fees to inflate the amount already fixed by the law. This could be a deterrent to people who want to see their records or need them for a variety of reasons.

Medical Records are Crucial

This law is important to you because when you file a medical malpractice case, your lawyer will have to acquire copies of all your medical records, which will be reviewed by an expert. After reviewing your records, this expert will give his opinion about the validity of your case.

If the expert considers the case valid then only your lawyer will be able to go ahead and file your medical malpractice case in New York. Therefore, getting copies of your medical records is crucial in any personal injury case, and the city has already laid down the law about how much you should be paying for getting these copies.

However, when lawyers send out requests to the doctor's office for the medical records of their patients, many doctors will send back fees letters asking not only for the regular copying costs but also for administrative and processing fees. Invariably, lawyers have to call back to the doctor's office and remind them that the law does not permit them to charge those extra fees. Most surgeons then will cut off those fees and charge only the copying fees fixed by the law.

No Right

The doctor in question here, made the mistake of presuming he could charge a flat fee, and ended up paying a very heavy fine. Doctors and hospitals do not have the freedom to choose what they can charge patients for copies of their medical records, as the amount is already fixed by the law. Even if they charge additional fees connected with the copying charge it is illegal and they can be prosecuted for the same.

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