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Office Medical Records

GETTING MEDICAL RECORDS

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). This statute does not govern records of hospitals licensed under Chapter 395.

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 in the case of a compulsory physical exam under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.360. 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 healthcare providers involved in the care or treatment of the patient, or with the patient’s written authorization, or when compelled by subpoena at a deposition, evidentiary hearing, or trial for which proper notice has been given. There has been a great deal of litigation over the scope of this privilege, primarily surrounding the defense lawyers’ former practice of arranging private meetings with the plaintiff’s doctors.

C. Access. The above health care providers above 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 that 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 MDs to $1 per page for the first 25 pages, and then 25 cents per page thereafter (Florida Administrative Code Rule 64B8-10.003). There are identical rules for records of DOs, or Doctors of Osteopathy, (Rule 64B15-15.003); chiropractors (Rule 61B2-17.005); physical therapists (Rule 64B17-6.005); and podiatrists (Rule 64B18-15.002). “Orthotics and
prosthetists may charge 50 cents for every page after the first 25 (Rule
64B14-7.002), and dentists may charge up to whatever the Clerk of the
County Court charges in the county where the dentist practices (Rule
64B5-17.009).” To our knowledge, there are no similar rules for the other office records governed by Section 455.667, so the charges should be the “actual cost of copying.”

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