Withholding Copies of Records for Failure to Pay Copy Fee

Q. Do we have to provide a patient copies of requested medical records if the patient fails to pay the copying fee? 

A. Generally, Texas Medical Board (TMB) regulations permit physicians to retain records until receiving payment of a copy fee, subject to some exceptions, says TMA’s white paper: “Medical Records — Fee for Copying.” 

TMB rules say:

“If payment is not routed with such a request, within ten calendar days from receiving a request for the release of such records, the physician shall notify the requesting party in writing of the need for payment and may withhold the information until payment of a reasonable fee is received. A copy of the letter regarding the need for payment shall be made part of the patient’s medical and/or billing record as appropriate.” (Emphasis added.)

Note that the practice may withhold records if the patient fails to pay for the copies but not if the patient has failed to pay a medical bill on time. Therefore, if a patient has a past due account for medical treatment and that patient pays for the copies, the practice must provide the records to the patient, the white paper says. 

Visit the Medical Records page on the TMA website for information about medical records access, release, consent, and copying, or delve deeper into these topics in Managing Your Medical Records, available in the TMA Education Center.

Or, find in the ins and outs of medical records in person by attending Medical Records: Most Wanted Answers. In this TMA live seminar, attorney Franklin Hopkins, past Texas Medical Board general counsel, leads you through case studies and discussions of frequently reported medical record violations. The seminar will be in cities around Texas July 4-Oct. 4, 2016. 

Published June 27, 2016  

NOTICE: The Texas Medical Association provides this information with the express understanding that 1) no attorney-client relationship exists, 2) neither TMA nor its attorneys are engaged in providing legal advice and 3) that the information is of a general character. This is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. While every effort is made to ensure that content is complete, accurate and timely, TMA cannot guarantee the accuracy and totality of the information contained in this publication and assumes no legal responsibility for loss or damages resulting from the use of this content. You should not rely on this information when dealing with personal legal matters; rather legal advice from retained legal counsel should be sought. Any legal forms are only provided for the use of physicians in consultation with their attorneys.

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Last Updated On

December 07, 2016

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