Florida Supreme Court to determine whether doctors can charge patients more to copy medical records

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PHOTO VIA PIXABAY
A long-running battle about how much patients should be charged for copies of medical records has gone to the Florida Supreme Court.

A patient and a law firm opposed to increased costs have filed a notice asking the Supreme Court to take up the dispute, according to documents posted Thursday on the Supreme Court website. Patient Daniel Fernandez and the firm Dax J. Lonetto, Sr., PLLC are challenging a 1st District Court of Appeal ruling in April that sided with the Florida Board of Medicine in the dispute. As is common, the notice filed at the Supreme Court does not detail the challengers' legal arguments.

The issue stems from a decision in 2015 by the Board of Medicine to approve a proposed rule that would allow patients to be charged a maximum of $1 a page for records. That would be a potential increase from a longstanding maximum of $1 a page for the first 25 pages of records and 25 cents a page for additional pages. The average patient visit generates 13 pieces of paper, and the average paper medical chart weighs 1.5 pounds, according to the Institute of Medicine.

The proposed rule was opposed by groups such as the Florida Justice Association and was challenged in the state Division of Administrative Hearings. An administrative law judge in December 2015 ruled in favor of the Board of Medicine, leading to the case going to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

In the April decision, a three-judge panel of the appeals court said the proposed rule had not been ratified by the Legislature, as is required by law because of the potential increased costs. But the appeals court said, in part, that nothing "in the record of these extensive rulemaking proceedings shows that the Board (of Medicine) failed to follow applicable rulemaking procedures or exceeded its rulemaking authority." Also, it rejected arguments that the proposed rule was moot because it had not been ratified by the Legislature.


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