Q. May I withhold access to a patient's medical record because of a past due account?
A. No. You may not withhold medical records from the patient, the patient's authorized representative, or the patient's designated recipient for the records based on a past due account for medical care or treatment previously rendered to the patient.
This Texas Medical Board rule is in line with an opinion of the American Medical Association Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, which says that "medical reports should not be withheld because of an unpaid balance for medical services" as well as the TMA Board of Counselors position that "it is unethical for a physician to refuse or to delay improperly in responding to a valid request for transfer of a former patient's medical records because of an unpaid bill. The physician's first responsibility is the care and welfare of the patient. Other alternatives are available for the collection of fees."
NOTICE: Please check the Texas Medical Board website frequently for current updates on its rules and policies on medical records.
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