Hospital illegally overcharged patients for medical records: suit
One of New York city’s top hospitals is gouging patients for copies of their medical records — charging them twice what the law allows, according to a new class-action lawsuit.
The illegal move, which potentially affects thousands of patients, came to light when 72-year-old retiree Vicky Ortiz sought copies of her records from NewYork–Presbyterian Columbia University Medical Center, her Manhattan Supreme Court suit says.
The Washington Heights woman was forced to cough up $2,963 for 1,758 pages, or $1.50 per page plus an administrative fee, her lawyer said.
The New York Public Health Law clearly says such costs can’t exceed 75 cents per page, according to her suit. “I said, ‘This is crazy. It’s just too much,’ ” Ortiz told The Post.
Her lawyer, Lowell Sidney, said he routinely requests records for his cases but had never paid such a high price for the information before.“It was like a sticker shock,” Sidney said.
But the prestigious hospital has “a monopoly on it. There is no other way to proceed. If you don’t pay, you don’t get them,’’ Sidney said. “I’m sure they’re savvy enough to know I’m going to pay whatever the price is.’’
The class-action suit targets the hospital and IOD Inc., which produces the records. It seeks unspecified damages for all patients who were may have been overcharged for records from 2011 through 2016.
The inflated rate has brought “substantial profits and windfalls” to Columbia and IOD on the backs of thousands of patients, according to court papers.
“We assume that if they are charging Vicky $1.50, they are charging other people who requested their records $1.50,” Sidney said.
Ortiz needed the documents for a personal-injury lawsuit she filed against a nursing home last year.
Court papers say that when her attorney brought the issue to the attention of the hospital’s administrators, they refused to lower the price.
A similar class-action suit against Rochester hospitals is pending before a federal appeals court.
A spokeswoman for NewYork–Presbyterian said she is looking into the claim. IOD said it does not comment on pending litigation.
Source: New York Post