We sometimes receive calls from irate patients/clients, who have been told, by their treating doctor, that in order for them to obtain a copy of their own medical records, they must pay the doctors office a certain amount. Many individuals, understandably so, believe that the medical records are their own and not the property of the doctor.
Unfortunately, under Pennsylvania law, the medical care provider owns the records; however, the patient has an absolute right to access or obtain copies of the original medical record, which is consistent with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Nevertheless, neither Pennsylvania law nor HIPAA allows a patient to remove the original medical record from the medical care provider’s file.
While HIPAA precludes the medical care provider from charging the patient a fee for locating and retrieving medical records, the patient may be charged a reasonable fee, pursuant to HIPAA and Pennsylvania law. Pursuant to 42 PA.C.S. 6152, a medical provider cannot charge more than the following: 1. for pages 1-20, $1.00 per page; 2. for page 21-60, $.75 per page; 3. for pages 61 and thereafter, $.25 per page; and 4. the actual cost of postage, shipping, or delivery.
Also, a physician must keep your records for seven (7) years since your last treatment or visit. So, if it has been close to seven years since your last visit or treatment, you should call your doctor to learn of their retention policy and whether you can take the file before it is destroyed.