Florida Statute Section 456.057 is titled “Ownership and Control of Patient Records; Report or Copies of Records to be Furnished,” and it defines the owner of medical records as the health care practitioner who generates a medical record after essentially performing an examination of a patient. The owners sell copies of their records to those who request them.
The cost of copies is controlled by 456.057 and Rule 64B8-10.003 of the Florida Administrative Code. A plain reading of Rule 64B8-10.003 makes it clear that the cost of medical records is determined by the status of the person making the request.
Frequently, patients and their authorized family members enter into contracts with law firms to provide legal services to them in connection with matters pertaining to medical issues. As part of these cases, the clients will execute releases authorizing medical practitioners to provide medical records to their legal representatives.
Section (2) of the Rule provides as follows:
(2) For patients and governmental entities, the reasonable costs of reproducing copies of written or typed documents or reports shall not be more than the following:
(a) For the first 25 pages, the cost shall be $1.00 per page.
(b) For each page in excess of 25 pages, the cost shall be 25 cents.
Do the legal representatives fall within the definition of “patients” or are they “other entities” as set forth in Section (3) of the Rule that does not limit the $1.00/page charge to the first 25 pages? In cases involving voluminous medical records, the distinction can make a substantial difference.
Florida Administrative Code Provision 64B8-10.004 defines “legal representative” for purposes of Florida Statute Section 456.057 as including the patient’s attorney who has been designated by the patient to receive copies of the patient’s medical records. It is also a well settled principle of law that an attorney serves as an agent for his or her client. As such, the acts of the agent are the acts of the principle, the client. Richard Bertram, Inc. v. Sterling Bank & Trust, 820 So.2d 963, 965 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002).
It is clear to us that the patient’s legal representative, the attorney, is required to pay $1.00 for the first 25 pages of records and 25 cents for each page in excess of 25 pages, and is not required to pay the charge of $1.00 per page that would be assessed for all other entities who request copies of such pursuant to Rule 64B8-10.003(3).
CAVEAT: This discussion does not apply to hospitals. How much hospitals can charge is controlled by Florida Statute Section 395.3025(1), which allows for a charge of up to $1.00 per page without limit to the number of copies. The Section also lists various and sundry other charges hospitals are allowed to make.
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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.