Records Go Back To 1982
William D. Raulerson underwent back surgery at University Community Hospital (UCH) in Tampa, but instead of relief, he suffered complications, reports the St. Petersburg Times.
So he filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against his surgeon, Antonio Castellvi. In order to proceed, records would be needed from the hospital.
Florida law gives patients a right to access any adverse incident records of doctors and hospitals. The person requesting the records is supposed to pay a reasonable cost.
What’s reasonable? How about one million dollars?
Hospital officials say that searching through years of records for adverse incidents related to Dr. Castellvi would require manual record searches. Some information would have to be redacted to protect privacy.
So Raulerson has sued UCH in an attempt to have the record costs lowered and to determine the actual cost to produce the documents.
Part of the problem is how far back the search would have to go.
Dr. Castellvi has been operating on spines for more than 20 years. The hospital says the documents requested would cost almost $75,000 per year for every year searched before 2008 and $68,000 per year after 2008, reports the St. Petersburg Times.
Raulerson’s lawyer says the cost is unconscionable and designed to stall and prevent patients from obtaining information about their doctors.
Patient Rights to Medical Records
The Agency for Health Care Administration says each hospital is supposed to keep track of how many adverse incidents for every doctor because reporting is mandatory.
The health care provider owns a patient’s medical record, but the patient has a right to see it and get a copy. Hospitals are required to keep the records for at least seven years after the patient has been discharged. Doctors in Florida must keep medical records for at least five years after their last contact with the patient.
Under HIPAA rules, a hospital is supposed to provide documents within 90 days after receiving a request. And the maximum copying fee for doctors and chiropractors is no more than $1 per page for copying the first 25 pages and 25-cents per page for additional pages, according to a summary on patient rights done by Georgetown University.
Under HIPAA Privacy rules you are not supposed to be charged for retrieving or handling fees.
Attorney Mike Trentalange says UCH is putting the public at danger if the cost estimate is accurate.
“It means they don’t know about adverse incident reports that they themselves created about a doctor,” he says “Which means they might have dangerous doctors on their staff.” #