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Dr holding records hostage for big $ Washington

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  • Dr holding records hostage for big $ Washington

    Thank you in advance for any assistance.

    Hubby has been seeing this urologist for many years for kidneys stones. The latest event started 10/08. Large stone in kidney. Stent placed (still in place) and from 10/08 to present has had at least 10 day surgeries to blast the stones. He has passed numerous stone but still has several large pieces up high in the ureter next to the stent. Saw Dr. early December 09 for surgery followup and nurse was to call us to schedule another procedure late this month. Called again late December for nurse to call for scheduling, never heard back. 2nd week in January our pharmacy faxed Dr a request to refill one of hubbys meds. A week later we were notified by the pharmacy that they never heard back from Dr. Told them I would call as he also now needed a refill of his pain med. I called Dr. office and got a recording stated he decided to retire and close his practice effective 12/31/09. His bookkeeper was working until the end of this month mornings only and to leave a message. If we wanted records to send a request to his new PO Box and we would be notified of amount for coping and postage and once payment was received, they would be mailed.

    I sent the request and spoke with the bookkeeper. She said she would call me when ready. It took calls to 5 other urologists in the area to find him a new Dr. His appointment is next week. The bookkeeper called me a couple of days ago and said the Dr. counted the pages (including unnecessary info) and the total was almost $300. I told her I only needed the office notes from 10/08 to present as I could get all lab, xray and surgery info from the hospitals. He refuses to release any records to the new Dr.

    The bookkeeper called yesterday and said the office notes for that period of time would be $48.50 so I made arrangements to go in this Friday, pay and pick up the records. She called me this morning and said that the Dr. came in, recopied the same notes plus sign in sheets, in office UA results and now wants $88.00.

    Here is the problem. Every physicians office I have spoken to (including hubbys primary care physician, says this is wrong. He is including a clerical fee of $23 which his bookkeeper has told him he cannot charge to the patients. He doesn't care. We can barely afford the $48.50. His new Dr. has optained all his other records but really needs these chart notes so as not to delay ongoing treatment and duplicate stuff. I feel this is extortion for him to try to make money as his practice was in a financial mess.

    Is this illegal to do this? His staff didn't know anything about the practice until 2 days before he closed the practice so patients had no warning. My husband is in pain, has a stent in his ureter for over a year and this is holding up his getting care.

    Please advise as to what options I have. I don't think going to the medical society will do any good as he has retired.

    I apologize for the length but felt some of the detail necessary.

    Thanks

  • #2
    Under what law is the bookkeeper saying that he can't charge $23?

    This may not be the answer you want to hear, but your best recourse may be to go ahead and pay the fee then sue him in small claims court and hope that the court will order it returned to you.
    I am not able to respond to private messages. Thanks!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Marketeer View Post
      Under what law is the bookkeeper saying that he can't charge $23?

      This may not be the answer you want to hear, but your best recourse may be to go ahead and pay the fee then sue him in small claims court and hope that the court will order it returned to you.
      I agree - with a caveat. Are you sure that the new doctor really wants those notes given that he has copies of everything else? Having seen a variety of doctor's notes, many are impossible for the authoring doctor himself to understand a couple of months down the road. The other documentation that you describe specifies what treatments your husband received and what tests were run and what the results were. That doesn't leave much of a chance of inadvertent duplication.
      Please post questions on the forum rather than sending me a private message or email. That way others who have similar issues have access to the discussion.

      Comment


      • #4
        Clerical fee is allowed by statute, yes?

        http://apps.leg.wa.gov/WAC/default.aspx?cite=246-08-400
        Don't feed the trolls.

        Comment


        • #5
          Per HIPAA, and Washington Law, clerical fee (or research and handling) is not billable.
          "Some state-mandated fees consist of a relatively substantial retrieval or handling charge ($10-$20) plus a per-page copy fee ($0.25-$1.00). Every state varies. Clearly, the HIPAA privacy standards preamble bars any covered entity from charging individuals the "retrieval or handling lee."

          The new physician wants these office notes as they give more detail on what the dr. had plans for and what medications were filled or changed, etc.

          We are talking about maybe 20 pages of just notes at at $48.50 for those pages (I am not talking about all the other eroneous pages he wanted to copy and charge $88 for). That is more then $2 per page (he is charging the clerical fee). We don't have much money so paying the $48.50 is bad enough.

          Also can he legally deny a request by another physician access to those records as he know he cannot charge them?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by smallbizhr View Post
            Per HIPAA, and Washington Law, clerical fee (or research and handling) is not billable.
            "Some state-mandated fees consist of a relatively substantial retrieval or handling charge ($10-$20) plus a per-page copy fee ($0.25-$1.00). Every state varies. Clearly, the HIPAA privacy standards preamble bars any covered entity from charging individuals the "retrieval or handling lee."

            We are talking about maybe 20 pages of just notes at at $48.50 for those pages (I am not talking about all the other eroneous pages he wanted to copy and charge $88 for). That is more then $2 per page (he is charging the clerical fee). We don't have much money so paying the $48.50 is bad enough.

            Also can he legally deny a request by another physician access to those records as he know he cannot charge them?
            You might try contacting your pharmacy for a list of old/changed prescriptions.

            Your new urologist should be able to develop a plan of treatment with the information he was able to obtain already. Trying to get the records from your old doctor is going to take too much time. Honestly, obtaining "sign-in sheets and in office UA results" is unnecessary. The in office UA basically shows if there is protein or a high white blood cell count in the urine indicating infection. I don't know why your new MD would need this old information, he could easily repeat this test himself or send the urine to a lab for analysis if your husband is experiencing symptoms.

            Comment


            • #7
              Call the state board that licenses doctors.

              The state board typically has ethical rules governing this situation.

              I don't think the doctor can ethically put these obstacles in the way of you getting the office notes. You are entitled to a copy of your own medical notes.
              Bob Bollinger, Attorney
              Board Certified Specialist in NC Workers' Compensation Law
              Charlotte, NC

              Comment


              • #8
                If it were me, I'd find a new Dr, have the records transferred to the new Dr directly (since Dr to Dr transfers generally dont cost anything) and then ask the new Dr for copies of the records.
                I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
                Thomas Jefferson

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                • #9
                  Here is the update. We were able to just get the office notes from Oct 08 to 12 09 for $50 (still got robbed). We went to the hospitals where the lab/xray and surgergies were done and they sent them to the new Dr. no charge.
                  The Dr. that closed up shop refused to send them to the patients new Dr.s and since he closed up shop the medical board couldn't do anything.
                  We kept a copy of everything we got in case hubby doesn't like this new Dr. and we go else where.

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