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Doctor's office won't give me medical records, but will forward them to new doctor?

Hackensack, NJ |

I hold POA for a relative and I have "fired" her GP -- they called me wanting to know name of new doctor to forward medical records; I said I'd take them. They said, oh no, I can't have them, besides, it would cost too much for me to have them because her file is so thick. (?) So they would copy all of that for free to send to another doctor, but not to give them to me? There is bad blood here, I think they really just want to know where she's going, so I really need to know my rights. Do they need to keep records for someone who is no longer their patient? Can I not just send them a letter authorizing them to release the records to me, I will pick them up, and they have the advanced directive naming me medical POA, and I have full POA as well. Thank you.

Attorney Answers 1

Posted

Since presumably you're planning to hire your relative a new doctor, have a the new doctor request the copies.

Here's what the NJ State Board of Medical Examiners' FAQ (linked below) says, and you might want to send them a letter quoting this language, via certified mail, return receipt requested, or via FedEx, or vie registered email (www.rPost.com) so you can prove receipt:

Q: Do I have a right to my medical records?
A: In most instances, the patient has a right to receive a copy of his or her medical records, not the original. Although most patients assume that the records belong to them, the Board requires that the physician to maintain the original to ensure that the patient’s medical history is available to any subsequent treating physician or health care provider. Copies may be given to the patient, another doctor, your attorney, your insurance company or another family member if the patient expressly authorizes it. If a patient is deceased, the duly appointed executor or administrator of the estate may obtain copies also. Medical records cannot be released to a spouse, family member (except in the case of a child), attorney or any other person unless the patient gives his/her express consent to release them to that specific person.

Q:.Can a doctor charge me for my medical records?
A: The Doctor may charge the patient to copy the records, which cannot be greater than $1.00 per page or $100.00 for the entire record, whichever is less. If the record is less than 10 pages, the doctor may charge $10. A "service fee" may not be charged apart from these amounts. Charges for copies of x-rays and other documents which cannot be reproduced by ordinary photocopying machines are to be charged at the actual costs to reproduce them, plus an administrative fee of the lesser of $10.00 or 10 percent of the cost of reproduction to compensate for office personnel time spent retrieving or reproducing the materials and overhead costs.

The Doctor has 30 days after he/she receives a written request from the patient, another doctor, an attorney, insurance company, or another family member if the patient expressly authorizes it. If the patient had provided a set of records from the patient’s previous Doctor, the patient has a right to have these included as part of the entire medical record. Physicians may not refuse to release a copy of a patient’s medical record if they are needed for on going treatment if the patient owes money for the medical services the physician provided. The physician, however, can hold the record until the patient pays for the costs to reproduce the record, providing the record is not required for on going medical care.

I'm only licensed in CA. Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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