A. Scope. Records of medical doctors, osteopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors, podiatrists, naturopaths, optometrists, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, speech pathologists, audiologists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, dietitians, nutritionists, veterinarians, opticians, physical therapists, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors are all governed by Section 456.057, Florida Statutes (formerly 455.241).
B. Confidentiality. This statute says all of these records are confidential and may not be furnished, nor may the medical condition of the patient be discussed with, any person other than the patient or the patient’s legal representative or other health care providers who are involved in the care and treatment of the patient, except upon written authorization of the patient. Exceptions include any person or corporation that has procured or furnished the examination or treatment with the patient’s consent, or with a compulsory physical exam under Rule 1.360, F.R.C.P. Copies may also be furnished in any civil or criminal action upon the issuance of a subpoena from a court of competent jurisdiction and proper notice to the patient or the patient’s legal representative by the party seeking such records. The statute also states that except in medical malpractice cases when the health care provider is or reasonably expects to be named as a defendant, information disclosed to the health care practitioner by a patient is confidential and may be disclosed only to other health care providers involved in the care or treatment of the patient, or by written authorization from the patient or compelled by subpoena at deposition, evidentiary hearing, or trial for which proper notice has been given. There has been much litigation over the scope of this privilege, primarily surrounding the former practice of defense lawyers, who arrange private meetings with the plaintiff’s doctors. Most of these disputes about the scope of this privilege have been put to rest by the Supreme Court case of Acosta v. Richter, 671 So.2d 149 (Fla. 1996), which says that this is improper.
C. Access. The above health care providers are required to furnish copies to the patient or the patient’s legal representative, in a timely manner, without delays for legal review. The only exception to furnishing copies to the patient is when the psychiatric, psychological or psychotherapeutic records are requested by the patient or the patient’s legal representative, the practitioner is permitted to provide a report of the examination and treatment in lieu of copies of the actual records.
D. Charges. The health care provider may charge “no more than the actual cost of copying, including reasonable staff time, or the amount specified in administrative rule by the appropriate board.” There is an administrative rule that limits charges for records of MD’s to $1 per page for the first 25 pages, and then 25 cents per page thereafter (Rule 64B8-10.003). There is and identical rule for records of D.O.’s or Doctors of Osteopathy (Rule 64B8-15.003); Chiropractors (61F2-17.005); and Physical Therapists (61F11-6.005). To our knowledge there are no similar rules for the other office records governed by 455.667, so the charge should be the “actual cost of copying.”