Florida Board of Medicine steers clear of medical records fight

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The Board of Medicine is steering clear of the ongoing legal fight between attorneys and release of information companies.

The board met via teleconference on Thursday to discuss October 31 correspondence from defense attorney Michael Fox Orr advising the board  that rule 64B8-10.003 would be challenged if it wasn’t changed by the end of the year.

Upon Board of Medicine legal counsel Ed Tellechea’s advice, the board voted unanimously not to defend the rule in circuit court if it is challenged. Given the fact the rule is in flux and likely to be changed in the next month, Tellechea said, defending the constitutionality would be “moot.”

Tellechea did say, though, there could be an administrative challenge and–if that is the case–the board would have to defend its rule in administrative court. Tellechea maintained, though, that the rule wasn’t vague as Orr advised in the letter and that he didn’t think it was unconstitutional.

The board’s teleconference meeting came one day after the judge in the class action suit–Webber v Bactes Imaging Solutions, Inc–issued an injunction banning release of information companies from charging attorneys more than patients if the attorneys are seeking the records for patients.

Charges for copying medical records in Florida have been bifurcated for the last five years.Under the rule patients and government entities can be charged $1 per page for the first 25 pages and .25 cents thereafter.

“Every other entity” is charged a flat $1 per page. Attorneys claim they should be charged the same rate as patients because they are seeking the records on behalf of the patient. Doctors and release of information companies believe attorneys should be charged the same rate “other entities” are charged, such as insurance companies.

The Board of Medicine has been considering the proposed change for more than one year.  The board will take public testimony on the rule in Tampa on December 4. The full board will be updated on the rule again at its December 5 follow up meeting.