FAQ: Can I charge patients for copies of their medical records?

May 24, 2019
Area(s) of Interest: Practice Management Electronic Health Records 

Yes. California law allows physicians to charge patients 25 cents per page for copying their medical records or 50 cents per page for microfilm. Physicians can also charge reasonable costs, not exceeding actual costs, incurred by them to provide copies of x-rays or tracings. 

It should be noted that some exceptions may apply, such as patients who are appealing a denial of eligibility for a public program. These patients are entitled to one free copy for the relevant portion of their medical record to support a claim or an appeal regarding eligibility for a public benefit program.

Further, patients have rights to access their medical records and California law prohibits physicians from withholding patient records because of an unpaid bill for health care services. 

To learn more about allowable copying costs, see health law library document #4002, "Medical Records: Allowable Copying Charges.” For more information on patient's right to access medical records, see document #4205, "Patient Access to Medical Records."

These documents, as well as the rest of the California Medical Association's online health law library, are available free to members at cmadocs.org/health-law-library. Nonmembers can purchase documents for $2 per page.

Contact: CMA Legal Information Line, (800) 786-4262 or via email.


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