In the case of Patricia Webber v. Bactes Imaging Solutions, Inc. n/k/a Sharecare Health Data Services, LLC, Case Numbers 2D18-2964 and 2D18-4813 (Fla. 2d DCA January 15, 2020), Florida’s Second DCA held that overcharging for patient records just because the request for records came from the patient’s attorney is a deceptive or unfair trade practice.
Despite the decision in this case, other medical records companies are relying on Ciox Health, LLC v. Alex Azar, US Dist. Ct., District of Columbia (January 23, 2020). In Ciox v. Azar, a federal judge in DC found that the “patient rate” does not apply to the patient’s attorney. My office is already receiving notices from Ciox that they will not be honoring the “patient rate” for requests for records coming from attorneys and that they will not honor the HITECH Act rate for electronic records (typically $6.50 for all records electronically stored).
Ms. Webber sued because Bactes Imaging Solutions charged her attorney $1.00 per page for medical records instead of 25 cents per page in violation of Florida Administrative Code 64B8-10.003(3). Bactes defended the lawsuit by claiming that the patient’s attorney is an “other entity” for which the $1.00 per page rate is permissible under FAC 64B8-10.003(3). Ms. Webber also claimed that overcharging her attorney for patient medical records was a violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA).
The trial judge found that Bactes violated the law by overcharging for patient records requested by the patient’s attorney. However, the trial judge concluded that Bactes’ violation of the law was not a FDUTPA violation. Florida’s Second DCA reversed.
Here’s What You Need To Know About Records Requests From A Patient’s Attorney
We are glad that Ms. Webber took the brave step to take on a medical records company over relatively small charges. Someone has to do it to uphold the law. I have to believe that the Second DCA felt the same way by finding Bactes’ actions to be a FDUTPA violation.
However, more importantly, what we gain from this case is an appellate decision that not only reinforces Allen v. HealthPort Techs., LLC, but also a leg up on enforcement because without enforcement the law may as well not exist.
Allen v. HealthPort Techs., LLC, 21 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 908a (Fla. 13th Jud. Cir. May 1, 20140 and Allen v. HealthPort Techs., LLC, 22 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 577b (Fla. 13th Jud. Cir. Nov. 13, 2014) had virtually identical facts to this case and support the notion that “the patient rate [for medical records of $0.25 per page] must be applied ‘irrespective of whether the patient’s request for copies was delivered, initiated, or made by the patient’s legal representative … and irrespective of whether the request for copes be delivered to the patient’s legal representative‘”.
Therefore, when faced with similar circumstances in being overcharged for medical records, you should respond to an improper billing request for patient medical records by not only stating that the correct price is $0.25 per page but also citing section 501.204(1), Fla. Stat. in that their attempt to overcharge you for records is a deceptive and unfair trade practice and that you may be entitled to injunction against them. The response is most likely going to be a concession on the charge for records.
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