When patients request copies of their own medical records, healthcare providers cannot charge a patient a retrieval or certifying fee for copying records, and the physician cannot require a patient to pay any outstanding bills before retrieving and copying medical records. A patient must request, in writing, a copy of medical records. The requested records must be provided within 30 days of receipt of the written request.
Physicians can charge a patient to copy X-rays and any other documents not reproduceable by photocopy. The physician can charge the actual cost to reproduce the document plus a reasonable fee for clerical services that cannot be more than $25.
There are certain situations when healthcare providers cannot charge a fee for copying medical records.
No fees can be charged for copies of immunization records that are required for school entry.
No fees can be charged for copies of records that will be used to support a claim or an appeal for Social Security, medical assistance, Rite Care, Temporary Disability Insurance, unemployment compensation, or any other federal or state needs-based benefits program.
No fees can be charged for copies of records that will be used in a civil court certification proceeding or for a Worker’s Compensation claim.
No fees can be charged for copies of medical records that are being sent to another consulting provider.
Fees for Providing Copies of Medical Records to Authorized Third Parties
A physician can charge an authorized third party for retrieving and copying medical records if the third party has a signed authorization for release of records from the patient. An authorized third party is defined as attorneys representing a patient, attorneys not representing a patient, a patient’s estate, or an insurance company.
These fees were set by Rhode Island General Law §216-RICR-40-05-1, enacted in October 2018. Physicians can also charge an authorized third party for the actual cost of postage.