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