Commercial Attorneys Discuss Patient Records

As commercial attorneys in Houston, Texas, we are asked by medical business clients whether doctors can charge for producing records requested by patients and others.  The Texas Medical Practice Act, which is part of the Texas Occupations Code, governs the disclosure of confidential patient medical and billing records.  Any licensed physician who receives written consent for release of a patient’s information must furnish copies of the requested medical or billing records, or a summary of the records, including records received from another physician or health care provider.

In the Texas Occupations Code, “physician” is defined as a person licensed to practice medicine in the state of Texas.  Pursuant to Tex. Occ. Code §159.008(a)(1), a physician may charge a reasonable fee, as prescribed by the Texas Medical Board, for copying billing or medical records.  The Texas Medical Board Rules for 2010 define the allowable charges for copying patient files as follows:

•    A reasonable fee shall be no more than $25.00 for the first twenty pages and $0.50 per page for every copy thereafter.

•    If an affidavit is requested to certify that the information is a true and correct copy of the records, a reasonable fee of up to $15.00 may be charged for executing the affidavit.

•    A reasonable fee may only include the cost of (1) copying, including labor and the cost of supplies for copying; (2) postage, when the individual has requested the copy or summary be mailed; and (3) preparing a summary of the records when appropriate.  The fee may not include costs of searching for and retrieving the information.

The Texas Occupations Code is divided into several sections according to occupation.  Pursuant to Texas Occupations Code §201.405(f), which deals with chiropractors,  the patient or a person acting on the patient’s behalf shall pay a reasonable fee for the information provided by the chiropractor.  Unlike the analogous provision for physicians, the provision for chiropractors does not refer to a chiropractic rule making body for the definition of reasonable fees.  The Texas Occupations Code is silent as to the fee a dentist may charge for the production of patient records.

Consult a business lawyer in your jurisdiction before signing any documents or making legally binding decisions.

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