As a patient, you are entitled to review your medical records. These records are important to retain in order to track your medical history, and in the event of a personal injury lawsuit, crucial to helping build your case. Of course, sometimes not all medical records are immediately at your disposal, or you may not have access to those records by the time you are finished recovering and ready to begin a case. When your attorney needs access to those medical records, they will normally seek to obtain those records themselves from the provider. Your case may actually encounter some unforeseen delays, depending on the medical provider and their record keeping practices.
In essence, many larger medical care sites do not actually house medical records for patients who are not currently undergoing care. They may make use of a third party service that will store your medical records for later access. The third party carrier is intended to make the day-to-day business of medical care proceed smoother and allow patients to have easier access to their records. The problem? Fees. Delays. Red Tape. Most times, you can never be sure what your particular care center's practices are until you are actually injured and trying to obtain medical records. Many times this can involve having to jump through corporate hoops to get what you need for your case.
A "Reasonable" Charge For Your Records
An interesting development in this practice has occurred in New York. New York State Law requires that medical care facilities charge a "reasonable maximum amount" to patients seeking medical records. For patients in New York, that "reasonable maximum amount" caps at 75 cents per page. You may end up paying a few dollars, or more, depending on the extent of your injuries.
Two class action lawsuits have since been filed in New York alleging that hospitals are charging the maximum amount allowed by law for the generation of medical records regardless of how much it actually costs the hospital to retrieve those records from third party services, in order to pocket the difference. The lawsuits also allege that hospitals receive kickbacks from the third party companies that do their record keeping.
In addition to attempting to profit from injury victims, these tactics can delay and hinder an attorney's progress in getting their patient the compensation they need. Medical records are valuable pieces of evidence and are understandably not always available after a person has recovered from an injury and wants to seek compensation. Limiting access to these records is a tremendous hindrance to progress for both attorneys and plaintiffs alike.