It used to be that when you needed your medical records, you just went to your doctor’s office and requested them. If your doctor referred you to a specialist, your records were sent to that doctor’s office so that he could review them and give you better treatment. If you moved, you just requested that your records be sent to the doctor in the new area. Not anymore. Now if you need a copy of your medical records it may cost you as much as $120.00 to $600.00 or more. Why have our medical records gotten so expensive to get copies of?
It is better to be prepared when you ask for medical records. Know the law and the reasonable amount that can be charged. If you know the average amount clinics and hospitals charge, you may be able to use that information to get higher charges lowered. But, if you really need those medical records and the medical establishment will not budge on the charges, it may be time to pay the fee and move on.
Why Can Doctors, Clinics, And Hospitals Charge Such High Fees For My Records?
Aren’t they my records? The medical information belongs to the patient, but the physical record containing that information belongs to the person or institution that created it. The supreme court cleared this matter up in its ruling on the 1992 landmark case of McInerney v. MacDonald. The law says that a patient has a right to request a viewing of his or her medical records for many reasons.
Patients are expected to make appointments in advance to do this. A patient can also ask for photocopies of medical records for a reasonable fee charged by the physician, clinic, or hospital. Many provincial medical associations have medical record fee guidelines for their member’s use.
What Are The Reasons People Have To Request Medical Records?
Insurance companies can demand a potential client’s medical records in the process of writing a policy. Workers compensation can demand medical records of a worker making a work injury claim. A patient may be changing doctors, clinics, or going to a specialist for a specific medical problem.
The new doctor or clinic will require the patient records to effectively treat them. Some patients want to keep an eye on their medical records to make sure they are accurate. Sometimes a doctor or clinic is closing and contacts patients to get their records to take to a new physician. Files are often transferred to another doctor at a smaller cost.
Why are medical records becoming so expensive for a patient to get?
Medical records can be as little as 20 pages or as much as 1,000 or more pages. Someone has to photocopy all those pages after going over them to remove references to others. This is to honor privacy laws. The worker doing the copying has to be paid, the paper and ink cost money, and there is a possibility of lawsuits because of file mistakes or other content.
When clinics close, they turn over the patient records to health information custodians or record keeping companies that do physical and digital medical record storage. They make their money by charging fees for access to those records. Companies such as Record Storage and Retrieval Services Inc. store patient records for doctors and clinics that have gone out of business. The doctors must notify patients of their office closing and tell them where to get their medical records. These Canadian medical record storage companies aren’t regulated the same as medical facilities so they can charge as much as they want.
What Will Happen When All Patient Records Are Digital?
When all medical records in Canada are electronic, will it be easier and cheaper for patients to get their records? Maybe not. In theory, all patients should be a click away from getting their medical records. But, the medical community has concerns about privacy. Will passwords cover that? Many in the medical profession in Canada and other countries do not think patients should have full access to their records. The future for electronic records accessibility has to be worked out by all the professionals involved. For more information, please see the website.