Class Action Lawsuit Alleges Excessive Fees for Copies of Patient Medical Records

The plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit are claiming that two Washington, DC-area hospitals violated consumer protection laws by charging hundreds of dollars for copies of medical records.

One of the plaintiffs requested electronic medical records from MedStar Georgetown University related to the 2013 birth of a child of an Alexandria, VA couple, including imaging and billing records, according to the lawsuit. Another patient asked MedStar for electronic records for a treatment received in January 2013. These patients were charged $1,168 and $1,558, respectively, according to a report in the Washington Business Journal. The Alexandria couple’s eventual bill came to $654, but the second patient’s “bill ultimately grew to nearly $2,500, including per-page charges, the ‘basic fee’ of $22.88, a handling fee of $1 and an electronic delivery fee of $2,” the Washington Business Journal reported.

A third plaintiff listed in the lawsuit claimed that George Washington University Hospital charged him when he requested copies of his electronic records, he was charged $32.32 for seven pages copied at 76 cents per page, as well as the “basic fee” of $22.88 and shipping and handling fees. He later received an additional bill for $430.20 including copying fees for more than 500 pages of records.

The plaintiffs claim that Washington, DC law allows patients to ask for and receive medical records from providers within 30 days for a “reasonable fee” and that providers can only charge a fee for the cost of labor for copying and preparing a summary, the cost of the paper and electronic media (such as a CD) and postage.

In a statement to the Washington Business Journal, MedStar Georgetown wrote: “Like many hospitals across the country we use a private vendor to manage medical record requests. Our vendor, HealthPort, ensures the compliant exchange of protected health information (PHI) for our hospital through its qualified, HIPAA-certified staff. The fees associated with medical record requests are set by HealthPort and include options for both paper and electronic records. We are confident that Healthport adheres to appropriate industry standards in setting fees.”

Comments reacting to the lawsuit, from George Washington University and HealthPort were not noted in the article, which can be read in full here.

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