HITECH: Your Medical Records are Your Property

You have a right to your records and shouldn’t be burdened with the high cost of paper copies.

New Laws and Medical Records

Many of our clients and potential clients expressed frustration at the cost and length of time it takes to obtain their medical records. There are laws that we have found helpful when it comes to affordable medical records requests. Instead of using a HIPAA authorization, we can use a HITECH request signed by you. 

The Federal HITECH Act, which is short for the “Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009”, caps the excessive fees that some healthcare providers attempt to charge for providing medical records. Under this law, covered entities may charge a flat fee of up to $6.50, or use other options that are based on actual allowable costs. Using this law, we can challenge medical records invoices from hospitals and medical facilities that can be thousands of dollars and force them to reduce the invoice to $6.50.

Under the HITECH Act, patients now have a legal right to see and get a copy of their health information from doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers such as pharmacies and nursing homes, as well as from their health plan at a reasonable cost.   However, it is important to mention that the HITECH Act does not govern paper copies of medical records, only electronic copies.

In terms of timing, the HITECH Act imposes a 30-day deadline for producing medical records in response to a patient request. If the healthcare provider has electronic medical records that are capable of fulfilling the records request, then they must be produced within 30 days of receiving the request in an electronic format, unless the patient agrees to another form.

Key points to know:

  1. The HITECH request must (a) be in writing; (b) signed by the Client; (c) identify where to send the records.
  1. Time Deadline: The covered entity must respond to a HITECH request within 30 days after the request is received. The HIPAA authorization does not have a time deadline.
  1. Fees:The fees that the entity can charge to respond to a HITECH request are strictly limited.  In most cases, the fee cannot exceed $6.50.  This fee limitation applies to any vendor hired by the covered entity to respond to the HITECH request. Further, the HITECH Act is a federal law that supercedes all State laws pertaining to the cost of medical records.

Limitations: A HITECH Records Request has two important limitations you should be aware of. First, it ONLY applies to electronic records. If the health care provider only maintains paper records, the HITECH request does NOT apply. Second, psychotherapy notes are exempt from a HITECH Records Request.

We are here to help!  At Catania & Catania, P.A. we understand medical records because we represent patients and family members in medical malpractice and wrongful death actions. For a free evaluation of your potential case, call us at today 1-800-253-5523.

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