Make 'em pay: should you be charged for transferring your medical records between GPs

No thanks: Noel Fletcher says he won't pay a local medical practice to transfer his medical records to his new GP.

No thanks: Noel Fletcher says he won't pay a local medical practice to transfer his medical records to his new GP.

Who owns your medical records and should you be charged a fee to transfer those records from one medical practice to another?

Noel Fletcher is adamant the practice is not common in Port Macquarie and says he was stunned to learn that a medical practice had sent him an account for $27.50 to transfer his medical records to his new GP.

“I rang a number of medical practices and none of them levy patients to transfer their records,” he said.

“I was stunned to get an account from my former medical practice.”

Mr Fletcher said he changed GPs because he wanted to have more control over making appointments to access his doctor. “I was just not happy having to wait in a queue,” he added.

The Port Macquarie resident said his new GP had requested his medical history from his previous GP and had since been forwarded a summary only.

“That’s when I received the account. But there did not appear to be an advertisement or indication that there would be a charge and at no point did I receive a test message or a phone call indicating that there would be a charge involved.

“In my view, I pay for my visit to the doctor – whether it is bulk billed or not – therefore I am employing that doctor for that period of time to deal with my health matters. In my view these records belong to me.

I am paying for this service. As far as I am concerned, these records belong to me and no one else. The doctor is simply the keeper of these records. - Noel Fletcher

“I am paying for this service. As far as I am concerned, these records belong to me and no one else. The doctor is simply the keeper of these records.

“I don’t intend to pay it (the account).”

Mr Fletcher suffers from osteomyelitis and says his current doctor requires his full medical records to determine any future treatment.

The Australian Medical Association says doctors are entitled to recover from the patient or from any other legally authorised person or authority requesting the information, the reasonable cost of providing access to the information contained in a medical record.

“In some jurisdictions, legislation determines the maximum amount a doctor can charge,” the AMA says.

“Within the limits of any relevant legislation, doctors should establish their own reasonable fees for providing copies of medical records.”

AMA NSW president Professor Brad Frankum said when a patient is moving from one GP to another and wishes for copies of their medical records to be provided to the new doctor, there are administrative costs associated with creating these documents.

”Doctors can charge a fee to cover these administrative costs and may charge an additional fee for writing a summary where medical records are extensive,” he said.

The Port Macquarie News contacted Mr Fletcher’s former medical practice for comment.

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