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My niece took her daughter to a doctor for medical tests. The doctor said the tests indicated a disorder that require therapy. But the doctor won't release the test results until he is paid $500. Can doctors hold test results for payment?

  • Depends on what's in the contract or release they signed for the test. What state are you in? – BlueDogRanch Jan 31 '17 at 2:59
  • You can also find a legal aid office in your town or county who can help. – BlueDogRanch Jan 31 '17 at 4:32
  • Is your niece's daughter covered by insurance? If so, contact them for assistance. – mkennedy Jan 31 '17 at 12:12
  • If he's board certified then his certifying body might have ethical rules that are stricter than the laws in your area. It might be worth finding out if he's committing an ethics violation by withholding results as well. – Sean Jan 31 '17 at 14:18
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The federal HIPAA law generally gives patients the right to obtain copies of their medical records. I would expect test results to be included.

According to the link above:

A provider cannot deny you a copy of your records because you have not paid for the services you have received.

However, a provider may charge for the reasonable costs for copying and mailing the records. The provider cannot charge you a fee for searching for or retrieving your records.

If you think these rules have been violated, you can file a complaint with the federal Office of Civil Rights.

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  • Didn't know that. Thanks for the informative tip. – ohwilleke Jan 31 '17 at 14:22
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I'm pretty sure that every state's licensing law prohibits requiring the patient to pay past due bills as a condition for obtaining records. The reason is that every state requires all doctors to provide copies to the patient (called patient access rights). Further, even if the state law restricts access, HIPAA's secction 164.524 preempts any state law that so restricts. As stated earlier, the only thing that doctors can charge for is the labor for copying, and any supplies (paper, CD, etc).

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