September 14, 2020

A widow in New York is suing Ciox Health and a New York hospital for their refusal to provide her with her husband’s medical records in electronic form that are necessary for the widow to identify the allegedly negligent doctor(s) who cause her husband’s death due to medical malpractice. The widow needs those records in order to file her New York medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires on September 14, 2020.

The widow’s husband had a chest x-ray in March 2017 that allegedly showed a mass in his lung but neither he nor his wife were advised of that finding. One year later, in March 2018, the man had another chest x-ray that found that the mass had grown to six centimeters. Additional medical testing discovered that the man’s cancer had spread to his liver and his brain. The widow contends that her husband suffered harm due to the one-year delay in diagnosis of his lung cancer. She needs her husband’s medical medical records in order to substantiate and determine her New York medical malpractice claims as well as to identify the health care providers who had breached the standards of care in her husband’s treatment and may be held liable for his injuries as a result.

The defendant hospital contracted with Ciox Health to handle its medical records requests. Ciox Health is a large, for-profit company that charges high per-page fees for paper copies of medical records. The widow requested that her husband’s records be provided to her in electronic form, which she alleges would cost $6.50 under federal law, but Ciox Health allegedly insists on providing paper copies of those medical records, at a cost of 75 cents per page, which will result in a bill to the widow in the amount of thousands of dollars.


Medical Records Costs Under HIPAA

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states on its website: “The HIPAA Privacy Rule permits a covered entity to charge a reasonable, cost-based fee for individuals (or their personal representatives) to receive (or direct to a third party) a copy of the individuals’ PHI. In addition to being reasonable, the fee may include only certain labor, supply, and postage costs that may apply in providing the individual with the copy in the form and format and manner requested or agreed to by the individual … A covered entity may charge individuals a flat fee for all requests for electronic copies of PHI maintained electronically, provided the fee does not exceed $6.50, inclusive of all labor, supplies, and any applicable postage. Charging a flat fee not to exceed $6.50 is therefore an option for entities that do not want to go through the process of calculating actual or average allowable costs for requests for electronic copies of PHI maintained electronically.”


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