Changing to a Different Doctor
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Changing to a Different Doctor
About 1/2 year ago, we switched from Bayside Medical Group
to a new pediatrician. Ever since then, our new pediatrician
has tried to retrieve our kids' medical records from Bayside
-- to no avail. I signed release forms a couple times, but
Bayside did not react. When my son recently was diagnosed
with pneumonia and an ear infection I needed the records for
his vaccination history and for the history on his recurring
ear infections. I called Bayside and was told I could come
by and pick up the records myself. When I did they charged
my $40 for them. When I complained about this charge to my
new pediatrician I learned that Bayside apparently does this
a lot -- they ignore doctors' requests to release medical
records to force parents to pick them up themselves in order
to charge them a hefty fee. I am wondering if this is even
legal -- aren't doctor's offices required to release medical
information if a release form has been signed. And if I'm
right about this, is there any place where I can complain?
Thanks so much for any input on this! I feel the health care
system is bad enough -- we don't need people to take
advantage of patients any more.
Fed Up With Bayside
The short answer is yes, any doctor can charge you for a
copy of your medical record. And yes, they are required to
give you your medical records if you ask them to in writing
(there are a very few instances under the law where they
can refuse to do so, but it's highly unlikely that you
would fall under these categories, especially since you
eventually secured the record). I forget the charges they
are allowed to bill you, but it's something like $20 +
$0.25/page. Often, doctor's offices will provide records to
each other at no fee as a professional courtesy because it
probably evens out in the end with all the records going
back and forth. And, I know that the fee upset you, but
when you consider that the doctor has to pay for someone to
get your chart and copy it, it makes sense. what if 100
patients all asked for their charts at once? These costs in
paper and staff time start adding up. And, yes, patients
are being charged more than ever for health care, but
remember that doctors are collecting far less than usual.
Most offices will have a disclosure statement letting you
know what their privacy rules are and how much they charge
for these services (in fact, they might be required to).
Also, there is a law as to how long an office has to
release the records--I think it's something like 2 weeks.
And, the office can legally ask for an extension--I forget
the process for that. In the future, if you require a
specific bit of information, you should ask just for that
one bit of information. Eg: instead of asking for a copy of
medical records (the whole chart), ask for the vaccination
records. (probably only one page)
irritating but legal
Yes, they can. Look up HIPAA law. Health care providers are required to show
you your records but are allowed to charge you a ''reasonable fee.'' Don't even
think about fighting this. Just be glad you switched. Most doctors won't charge
even though they are allowed to. This one sounds like a loser.
I can't offer help, but I had the same experience with Bayside Pediatrics. I
shocked that they would charge me for walking the files to my new pediatrician
myself. When I questioned them about it I was told it was a fee for the copying
of the files. After all of the incorrect billing charges and long waits for
appointments, I have to say I wasn't that surprised. I will be interested to
there is somewhere that we can complain. It is unfair to have to pay a fee or
have them hold your child's files hostage.
As a pediatrician I'm always quite pleasantly surprised when
we actually receive the medical records we request from
other medical offices. Kaiser often comes through
eventually, but with most other offices we fax the request
several times and never receive a thing. I can't answer
your question specifically, but for others out there I
recommend having a copy of the up-to-date vaccine record and
any other really key information (growth chart is often
nice) if you're going to be changing pediatricians. Don't
expect that two medical offices will exchange information in
an appropriate and timely manner, because sadly they seldom do.
I used to go to Bayside. My experience is that the medical
staff are disorganized, though some of the doctors and
nurses are excellent.
You can save your immunizations for free in the State's
immunization registry. See www.cairweb.org.
You may be able to file a complaint with the DMHC,
department of managed health care.
I suggest documenting all requests to the doctor's office
and sending it your former doctor (when you signed the
waiver, how many calls were not returned) and asking for a
refund. You should not have to pay for medical assistants
not doing their job.
Bayside once charged a visit to my old insurance, even
though I had given them my new card. Since the old
insurance denied the claim, Bayside billed me for the visit.
I informed them that the billing error was their fault and
they needed to re-submit the claim to the correct plan.
However, it had been 6 months by the time they informed me
and Bayside claimed it was too late to resubmit the claim.
Long story short, I left Bayside.
My kids changed
pediatricians and nothing of the kind happened. I have
changed various practitioners over the years and have never
had to pay for records.
I had a similar experience with Bayside. I have a foster
child who was previously seen at Bayside, which is nowhere
near my home. When she came to stay with me, I took her to a
recommended pediatrician in my area. The new pediatrician's
office called Bayside 5 times over a month to get the
medical records, and even then the records weren't complete.
I called Bayside myself to see if that would speed up the
process - I needed the info for a preschool application -
and was essentially hung up on. The feeling we got is that
Bayside was pissed that the care had been transferred, so
they were not going to cooperate. Nice, right? I hope there
is some recourse for you.
Is it ok to switch to a different pediatrician that's in the same
group as the current pediatrician? Or, is it like when you change
hairstylists and have to go to a new salon?
There is no need to switch offices. When you make your next
appointment, just specify the new doctor's name, and if they
ask, just say you think it would be a better fit for you and
your children. It happens all the time, no biggie.
This may actually depend on the practice, but when I first interviewed my current
pediatrician when I was pregnant with my first, she openly told me that all of the
doctors in that practice work together, and if I ever wanted to switch doctors for
personal reasons, there were no hard feelings. All of the doctors have very different
personalities and styles, and sometimes you just find you 'mesh' better with another
doctor. Or, as my boys get older, they might decide that they would be more
comfortable with a male doctor. Personally, I wouldn't want to keep a doctor who
would put his or her ego ahead of the needs of the patient anyway.
Not an issue. Just do it. We switched a couple of times as our
daughter grew up. They're all busy enough -- and too
professional to take it personally.
Most doctors are so busy it's unlikely they'd care or even notice.
I am a pediatrician and I think most of us totally understand
that parents and/or kids sometimes have a better rapport with
other pediatricians in the same office. Also sometimes as kids
get older they don't feel comfortable with a doctor of the
opposite sex and switch. I'd say stay in the same office with
a new doctor.
Wouldn't be offended
My two children currently see the same pediatrician in a small
private practice of 8 doctors. I have been considering
switching them to another doctor in the same practice and
wonder about the etiquette of doing so. Although their current
doctor is a kind and competent pediatrician, I feel like I
could be getting more out of our visits and have grown tired of
hearing the same advice and anecdotes again and again each
visit. We have seen other doctors in the practice when we've
visited for drop-in care, and I do have one or two in mind that
I feel are better choices for us. So my question is, how can I
switch? Our current doctor has seen my children for about 1
1/2 years now. Do I just start making appointments with
another doctor instead? What if they ask why I am switching?
I don't want to offend our current pediatrician, but I just
don't think he's a good match for us. Thanks
Just ask the new doctor if s/he will take your kids. We
switched from male dr. to female when my daughter turned 10 and
then changed to another female dr., all in the same practice.
They're all busy enough that there's no problem and hard
I just did the same thing and had the same concerns. One of the
nurses at my children's practice said the doctors ''don't care''
but the new doctor we switched to said that the doctors do
sometimes take it personally. She suggested I write a note to
the other doctor explaining the situation. That's what I did. I
was honest about the switch, but also said many nice things
about the doctor we were leaving b/c she was a nice person and
a very competent doctor. I just felt that the new person would
be a better fit for one of my children in particular.
Liked both, but happy to have switched
If you'd like a wimpy way out, here's my advice. I just did
something somewhat similar with my dentist office. There is a
hygenist there that I don't particularly care for, but seem to
have been ''assigned'' to. He's a nice guy, but there's just
something about him that rubs me a little wrong. My husband
and friend are ''assigned'' to a wonderful hygeinist! How
jealous I've been! Since I'm a complete wimp about such things
that really shouldn't matter, I took the wussy way out and
found out which days he's not in the office and started
scheduling all my cleanings for that day. I just avoid him.
How wimpy am I? Will that work with the pediatrician? Can you
find out his/her ''off'' day and start scheduling appointments on
that day? After a few visits, it should seem completely
natural to make the new doctor a permanent assignment. I know
it really shouldn't matter...but....
-I'm a wuss!
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