Pa­tients sue D.C. hos­pi­tals over charges for med­i­cal records

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Michael San­dler

Pa­tients in Washington, D.C., have filed a law­suit against two area hos­pi­tals al­leg­ing they were charged thou­sands of dol­lars to ob­tain med­i­cal records.

The plain­tiffs have filed suit against MedS­tar Georgetown Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal and Ge­orge Washington Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal, con­tend­ing the hos­pi­tals vi­o­lated Dis­trict of Columbia con­sumer pro­tec­tion laws by charg­ing ex­or­bi­tant amounts to ob­tain med­i­cal records.

Ac­cord­ing to the suit, pa­tients in D.C. are en­ti­tled to a copy of their med­i­cal records within 30 days for a rea­son­able fee. Fed­eral law al­lows a provider to charge for la­bor costs for copy­ing and pre­par­ing a sum­mary, the cost of pa­per and use of elec­tronic media and postage costs. No other fees may be charged.

A cou­ple in the law­suit re­quested an elec­tronic copy of their child’s birth record from MedS­tar Georgetown. The other pa­tient re­quested an elec­tronic health record for treat­ment he re­ceived. The law­suit al­leges that the cou­ple and the in­di­vid­ual pa­tient were charged a to­tal of $1,167.88 and $1,559.26, re­spec­tively.

HealthPort, MedS­tar Georgetown’s third-party ven­dor, al­legedly in­formed the cou­ple that records were avail­able only on pa­per. In both cases, HealthPort charged a copy­ing fee of 76 cents per page, a ba­sic fee of $22.88 and a ship­ping and han­dling fee of $16.38.

HealthPort did not re­spond to an in­ter­view re­quest. MedS­tar Georgetown’s le­gal coun­sel said the hos­pi­tal had of­fered an al­ter­na­tive to pro­vid­ing elec­tronic copies, “which was not ac­cept­able to (the pa­tients),” ac­cord­ing to the suit.

Also listed in the suit was a man who re­ceived care from Ge­orge Washington Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal and was hit with sim­i­lar fees af­ter re­quest­ing an elec­tronic copy of his health record. He says he re­ceived a bill for $430.20, in­clud­ing copy­ing fees for more than 500 pages of records.

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