It Is Considered Unprofessional Conduct For a Doctor to Refuse to Give a Patient His or Her Medical Records

In some of our cases, we confront the situation where a doctor or hospital refuse to provide a patient with his or her medical records. When this situation arises, we write to the doctor or hospital to explain that such conduct is unprofessional (and sanctionable). In Arizona, a patient has the right to obtain a complete copy of her medical records on the written request of a patient for access or copies of the patient’s medical records, the health care provider in possession of the record shall provide the medical records to the patient or the person designated in writing by the patient.

The federal statutes also require medical providers to provide patients with a copy of their medical records – "an individual has a right of access to inspect and obtain a copy of protected health information about the individual." 45 CFR § 164.524. Moreover, it is considered unprofessional conduct for a medical doctor to refuse to provide a patient with a copy of her medical records.The only exception to this rule is where the medical provider has reason to believe that providing the meical records would be harmful to the patient.

The law also prohibits a doctor or hospital from charging an unreasonable fee for the medical records. Arizona Revised Statutes § 12-2295 states that "a health care provider or contractor may charge a person who requests copies of medical records a reasonable fee for the production of the records." (emphasis added) Further, HIPAA states that if a patient requests a copy of his protected health information, "the covered entity may impose a reasonable, cost-based fee, provided that the fee includes only the cost of: (i) Copying, including the cost of supplies for and labor of copying, the protected health information requested by the individual; (ii) Postage, when the individual has requested the copy, or the summary or explanation, be mailed." See 45 CFR 164.524 (emphasis added).

Categories: Arizona Statutes, HIPAA