Patients have a legal right under HIPAA to a copy of their medical records. Many healthcare providers, including audiologists, will provide a patient's test results/records at no charge when requested. Under many State laws enacted before the Privacy Rule, practices can charge individuals fees for copies of their medical records (usually the maximum fee is set by the law), but fees that are not cost-based may be contrary to the Privacy Rule. The rules vary by state but it is legal to have reasonable fees.
It depends on the state. Some states have provisions which allow a medical professional to charge for copies of medical records. They cannot deny the patient access to these records, but can charge a reasonable fee for photocopying or other reproductions. In Oregon, where I'm from, we have it specifically stated relating to hearing care that if the patient requests a copy of their most recent audiogram, they are to provided the copy at no charge. If the patient wants copies of other aspects of their records, which includes prior audiograms, then they can be charged up to $0.25 per page for photocopying, which is considered reasonable. Again, this is how it is in Oregon; your state may have different rules.
I don't believe it's legal. Maybe it's just my feeling but if you come in to request your own personal information, then I think you have every right to it and there shouldn't be a fee involved. I know why it's done. I worked for a company that felt that the client was going to take that audiogram and go shop for a lower price for hearing aids. I think if a provider is confident in their work and confident in their ability, they should happily honor the clients request and not charge a fee. I am sure others may disagree.
You have every legal right to request a copy of any or all of your medical records. It is permissible to charge a reasonable fee to cover the cost of providing those records but the fee should be minimal. I always give every patient a copy of their audiogram for their own records after we explain the results to them. I know of many providers who refuse to give the patients a copy of their audiogram so they won't go shopping somewhere else for hearing aids. That is against the law. You have the right to get a copy of your records at a reasonable charge.
The charge can be a nominal charge for printing and or administrative work. It is easier for the copy to be made the same day of the office visit. If the request is to send the audiogram to an online provider of hearing aids, I think the person requesting the copy should pay a reasonable amount for the services provided. The online providers promise a savings but don't do much work besides processing your credit card.
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