As a law firm that focuses its practice on representing injured people as a result of someone else’s negligence, one of the things we do, every single day, is interact with healthcare providers and request medical records for our clients.
One of the most important bits of information we advise our clients of at the beginning of their case is that if they are injured or hurt they must have those injuries/issues documented by a qualified healthcare provider. For purposes of this conversation, a qualified health care provider is a doctor, chiropractor, hospital, urgent care facility, physical therapist, etc.
The importance of documenting your injuries after an incident is critical. In some cases, such as after a car accident, the law requires you to prove that you suffered from an injury “within a reasonable degree of medical probability.” Thus, in Florida, medical documentation after an accident is not only important to prove your case, it is necessary under the law.
This leads us to the next question, and the question that probably brought you to this particular post: how much can a health care provider charge for medical records? As with all things, the answer is not always clear. However, there are several statutes, rules, and guidelines in Florida that govern what a health care provider can charge for medical records.
The first statute to review is Florida Statute Section 395.3025, which governs charges by hospitals covered under the statute. In short, a hospital licensed under these statutes may not charge more than $1.00 per page. Specifically, the statute states:
(1) Any licensed facility shall, upon written request, and only after discharge of the patient, furnish, in a timely manner, without delays for legal review, to any person admitted therein for care and treatment or treated thereat, or to any such person’s guardian, curator, or personal representative, or in the absence of one of those persons, to the next of kin of a decedent or the parent of a minor, or to anyone designated by such person in writing, a true and correct copy of all patient records, including X rays, and insurance information concerning such person, which records are in the possession of the licensed facility, provided the person requesting such records agrees to pay a charge. The exclusive charge for copies of patient records may include sales tax and actual postage, and, except for nonpaper records that are subject to a charge not to exceed $2, may not exceed $1 per page. A fee of up to $1 may be charged for each year of records requested. These charges shall apply to all records furnished, whether directly from the facility or from a copy service providing these services on behalf of the facility. However, a patient whose records are copied or searched for the purpose of continuing to receive medical care is not required to pay a charge for copying or for the search. The licensed facility shall further allow any such person to examine the original records in its possession, or microforms or other suitable reproductions of the records, upon such reasonable terms as shall be imposed to assure that the records will not be damaged, destroyed, or altered.
Thus, taking this Florida law into account, a licensed Florida hospital cannot charge more than $1.00 per page, $1.00 per year searched, and actual costs of sales tax and shipping. However, I found the reference to “non-paper record” interesting. After some researching, it is determined that the non-paper records appear to refer to microfilm/microfiche.
However, the above statute refers to hospitals and does not address the applicable charges for individual doctor’s practices, chiropractor’s offices, physical therapists, etc. To assess what other medical professional can charge for medical records we must look to outside of the Florida statutes.
The guidelines for medical doctors and other practices for charges of medical records is found under Florida administrative rules. Specifically, Florida administrative rule 64b8-10.003 states what the maximum charges for medical records are allowed in Florida.
Specifically, Florida Administrative Rule 64B8-10.003 (Costs of Reproducing Medical Records) states in full:
Recognizing that patient access to medical records is important and necessary to assure continuity of patient care, the Board of Medicine urges physicians to provide their patients a copy of their medical records, upon request, without cost, especially when the patient is economically disadvantaged. The Board, however, also recognizes that the cost of reproducing voluminous medical records may be financially burdensome to some practitioners. Therefore, the following rule sets forth the permitted costs for the reproduction of medical records.
- Any person licensed pursuant to Chapter 458, F.S., required to release copies of patient medical records may condition such release upon payment by the requesting party of the reasonable costs of reproducing the records.
- For patients and governmental entities, the reasonable costs of reproducing copies of written or typed documents or reports shall not be more than the following:
- For the first 25 pages, the cost shall be $1.00 per page.
- For each page in excess of 25 pages, the cost shall be 25 cents.
- For other entities, the reasonable costs of reproducing copies of written or typed documents or reports shall not be more than $1.00 per page.
- Reasonable costs of reproducing x-rays and such other special kinds of records shall be the actual costs. The phrase “actual costs” means the cost of the material and supplies used to duplicate the record, as well as the labor costs and overhead costs associated with such duplication.
Rulemaking Authority 456.057(18), 458.309 FS. Law Implemented 456.057(18) FS. History–New 11-17-87, Amended 5-12-88, Formerly 21M-26.003, 61F6-26.003, 59R-10.003, Amended 3-9-09.
According to the Administrative Rules, a medical provider (not a hospital) may charge $1.00 per page up to 25 pages, and only .25 cents thereafter for medical records – this guidance regarding maximum charges is limited to only governmental agencies and patients.
However, would these charges apply to lawyers who represent patients and request the patient’s medical records on their behalf? It is this Firm’s opinion that since an attorney is, in essence, the agent for the patient requesting the medical records, the maximum charges would be applicable to the attorneys’ request(s).
Lastly, and also importantly, Florida law also outlines the maximum charges applicable to Worker’s Compensation claims; this is governed by Florida Administrative Code 69L-7.601. In short, the Florida law applicable states that “Health care providers and health care facilities shall upon demand furnish an injured employee or his attorney a copy of his office chart, records, and reports. The health care provider or health care facility furnishing the records may charge the employee for copying the records up to $.50 per page or the actual direct cost to the health care provider or health care facility for x-rays, microfilm, or other non-paper records.”
The rulemaking authority for worker’s compensation guidelines is found in Florida Statutes Chapter 440 and more specifically, 440.13(4)(c) FS. (1988 Supp.). Law Implemented 440.13(4)(b) FS. (1988 Supp.). History–New 11-14-89, Formerly 38F-7.601, 4L-7.601.
As with all laws, there usually is much left up to interpretation by the court system. In 2016, the Second District Court Affirmed the lower court’s ruling that these costs are applicable, see Healthport Technologies, LLC vs. Allen, 207 So3d 229 (2d DCA 2016).
If you have a question regarding your medical records or how much you are legally allowed to charge, or be charged, reach out to our personal injury lawyers and ask away!