You are closing your medical practice and looking for a solution to manage the records that ensures patient care and compliance. You realize that trying to do this yourself comes with risks, unknown costs, and a burden you don’t want to deal with for the next seven years or more, depending on your record types.
When choosing a records custodian, one of the most overlooked questions is whether or not the custodian charges patients for copies of their medical records.
In January 2020, a landmark Federal Court decision provided absolute clarity on the issue of third-party business associates, such as records custodians or other release of information services, and what patients can be charged for medical records. While there will likely be further clarification by the US Department of Health & Human Services, the decision in the US District Court Case: Ciox Health v Azar, clearly established that copies of medical records sent to patients or their designees may not exceed a reasonable cost, currently at $6.50 for electronic fulfillment. This reflects the federal standard, and many states have even more stringent requirements, including several instances where patients may not be charged at all for copies of records.
If patients are charged more for their medical records than the federal and/or state laws allows, both the retired physician and the provider can be held liable for the penalties which result.
The retired physician will not be able to claim ignorance, as the arrangement would be memorialized in the contract between the provider and the business associate. If proper documents between the retired physician and the records custodian don’t exist, the retiring physician can end up with even bigger problems.
Aside from the legal jeopardy associated with charging patients for their records, even if the charges are within the paltry legal limits, does a retiring physician really want their legacy to be “nickel and diming” their patients after many years of being their trusted provider? How would that retiring physician feel about learning one of their patients experienced an adverse event as a result of not receiving their legacy records in a timely fashion? As many retired physicians who have made this mistake can attest, with the reach of social media and internet searches, angry patients will find and complain to retired physicians who make bad custodial records decisions – disrupting what should be a well-earned rest after years of serving as a successful physician.
Let us help make this an easier transition for you and your patients by taking on the responsibility of records management in a way that’s compliant and cost-effective. Learn more about how we’re able to help medical practices navigate retirement or closure here.