Medical Records Are No Longer Money Pits

How hard can it be to get a client’s medical records? Nearly two years ago, I drafted a blog largely fueled by simmering fury. “Medical Records Should Not Be Money Pits” was borne from received invoices for hundreds of dollars to obtain my client’s own medical records. Common ground is hard to come by these days, but I knew I was in good company. From plaintiff attorneys to insurance carriers and all those in between, the strife was felt by all. The field of law teaches you valuable lessons about leveled expectations. I knew I would do whatever I personally could to change this, but was all too aware of how limited that would likely be. Luckily, I was not alone.

Thanks to the heroic efforts with several of my colleagues through the Ohio Association for Justice, a large-scale effort to change these gouging practices was launched. The abridged version of these efforts included a year of back-and-forth with legislators to propose something agreeable. Due to the collaboration of many, a compromise that has already benefited many of my clients was reached and an amendment went into effect last Fall.

Prior to this amendment, the formula set by Ohio Revised Code permitted the massive invoices I mentioned earlier. Now R.C. 3701.741 expressly includes a provision that caps the amount that can be charged for digital records at $50.00. While the framework seems convoluted on its face, the agreed mechanism to trigger the cap is not. Under R.C. 3701.741(B)(1)(b), if a request for medical records is made with a valid power of attorney, “the total cost for that access or for the electronic transmission, and all related services, shall not exceed fifty dollars.” As soon as a client hires me, they execute a valid, limited POA solely to avail themselves of this cap. This amended statute requires providers to honor this provision or they risk violating state law.

With this in place, the entire system works better. Reviewing cases for merit becomes more practical. Timely obtaining records is becoming more streamlined. Above all, clients that have already suffered irreparable harm are not further injured by gratuitous costs. When I pulled up that old blog post as a reference point, I broke into a large smile. Often, with these types of issues, the only relief we have is to put on the keyboard warrior hat. This time, however, the relief is far more tangible in reporting that medical records are no longer money pits.