Law Agency Files Class Action Lawsuit For Overcharging for Copy of Patient’s Health Records

by | Mar 19, 2020 | Compliance News

A law business is filing a legal case against Medical Records Online (MRO), a healthcare release-of-information solution provider, for charging an overpriced fee on law businesses and insurance providers when furnishing digital copies of patients’ medical records.

Cipriani & Werner of Pittsburgh filed the legal case in federal court in Camden, NJ. The lawsuit pertains to MRO charges for furnishing a copy of a patient’s health records meant for a personal injury case against the store Kohl’s, which the law agency represents.

Cipriani & Werner procured the medical records of the plaintiff in the lawsuit from John F. Kennedy Medical Center, located in Edison, NJ. The MRO billed $528 for 518 pages of medical records of the plaintiff. The law agency was billed a $10 search fee and $1 per page, despite the fact the data was furnished digitally as a PDF file.

Cipriani & Werner states MRO violated the New Jersey Declaratory Judgement Act when it billed unlawful fees well over the highest limit. Other claims made include:

  • a claim under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act with respect to unconscionable commercial practices
  • for a breach of New Jersey common law
  • for a breach of contract for breaking the implied contract of good faith and fair dealing

The New Jersey Administrative Code permits a $10 search fee to be demanded for providing copies of medical data to third parties, a fee of $1 per page, and the actual charge of postage and media for distributing the records (e.g. a compact disc). Cipriani & Werner comments the bill should have only included a $10 search fee and there should be no per-page cost considering that the information was not printed.

The lawsuit claims that irrespective of whether MRO was furnishing copies of merely a number of pages of information or hundreds of pages, the cost to MRO of replicating electronically stored data and sending them to the client took an identical amount of time and work. Cipriani & Werner mentioned the overall process took only 5 minutes.

The Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis law agency of Cherry Hill, NJ that represents MRO states that the service charge was absolutely legal and was according to state polices.

The lawsuit refers to a 2015 memorandum from the New Jersey State Department which disallows health record providers from asking for per-page fees for electronically transmitted copies of medical records and for per-page rates to be placed when records are provided to purchasers by means of computer equipment. Nonetheless, in this lawsuit, the state department memo is not applicable because the department of Health in New Jersey has no authority over MRO and the memo didn’t proceed through official rule-making steps in the State of New Jersey.

The class members are mostly legal professionals and insurance firms who ordered copies of electronic medical data from MRO from September 2015 up to February 2020, who were, in the same way, asked to pay for electronic copies of health records in civil cases. The lawsuit merely names MRO, not any healthcare organization that uses MRO for taking care of requests for copies of medical data.

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