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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE XVI PUBLIC HEALTH
  • CHAPTER 111 PUBLIC HEALTH
  • Section 70 Records of hospitals or clinics; custody; inspection; copies; fees

Section 70. Hospitals or clinics subject to licensure by the department of public health or supported in whole or in part by the commonwealth, shall keep records of the treatment of the cases under their care including the medical history and nurses’ notes and, in the case of a patient brought to a hospital by an ambulance service licensed pursuant to chapter 111C, a copy of the call summary set forth in paragraph (15) of subsection (b) of section 3 of said chapter 111C. These records may be handwritten, printed, typed or in electronic digital media or converted to electronic digital media as originally created by such hospital or clinic, by the photographic or microphotographic process, or any combination thereof. The hospital or clinic may destroy records only after the applicable retention period has elapsed and after notifying the department of public health, in accordance with its regulations, that the records will be destroyed. The department, through its regulations, shall establish an appropriate notification process. On the notice of privacy practices distributed to its patients, a hospital or clinic shall provide: (i) information concerning the provisions of this section and (ii) the hospital or clinic’s records termination policy. Such records shall be in the custody of the hospital or clinic. Section ten of chapter sixty-six shall not apply to such records; provided, however, that such records and similar records kept by the hospital or clinic, except a hospital or clinic under the control of the department of mental health, may be inspected by the patient to whom they relate, the patient’s attorney upon delivery of a written authorization from said patient, the duly appointed executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate or the attorney for such executor or administrator upon delivery of a written authorization from such executor or administrator, and a copy shall be furnished upon the request and a payment of a reasonable fee”, and a copy shall be furnished upon the payment of a reasonable fee, which for the purposes of this section shall mean a base charge of not more than $15 for each request for a hospital or clinic medical record; a per page charge of not more than $0.50 for each of the first 100 pages of a hospital or clinic medical record that is copied per request; and not more than $0.25 per page for each page in excess of 100 pages of a hospital or clinic medical record that is copied per request, except that no fee shall be charged to any applicant, beneficiary or individual representing said applicant or beneficiary for furnishing a record if the record is requested for the purpose of supporting a claim or appeal under any provision of the Social Security Act or any federal or state financial needs-based benefit program; and provided, further, that upon proper judicial order, whether in connection with pending judicial proceedings or otherwise, or, except in the case of records of hospitals under the control of the department of mental health, upon order of the head of the state department which issues the license or of the head of the state department having jurisdiction or control of such hospital or clinic, and in compliance with the terms of said order, and, in the case of a hospital or clinic under the control of the department of mental health, when the commissioner of mental health determines that a disclosure would be in the best interest of a patient as provided in the rules and regulations promulgated by the commissioner, such records may be inspected and copies furnished on payment of a reasonable fee, except that no fee shall be charged to any applicant, beneficiary or individual representing said applicant or beneficiary for furnishing a record if the record is requested for the purpose of supporting a claim or appeal under any provision of the Social Security Act or any federal or state financial needs-based benefit program. A health care provider shall furnish a health record requested pursuant to a claim or appeal under any provision of the Social Security Act or any federal or state financial needs-based benefit program within thirty days of the request. Any person for whom no fee shall be charged shall present reasonable documentation at the time of such records request that the purpose of said request is to support a claim or appeal under any provision of the Social Security Act or any federal or state financial needs-based benefit program. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a hospital or clinic served with a subpoena for such records of any party named in that proceeding as shown by the case caption appearing on the subpoena, shall deliver certified copies of the subpoenaed records in its custody to the court or place of hearing designated on the subpoena. Any such record or any part or portion thereof may be destroyed 20 years after the discharge or the final treatment therein of the patient to whom it relates.

In the event of the transfer of ownership of a hospital, an institution for unwed mothers or a clinic, all medical records of the same shall be maintained by the new owner as if there were no change in ownership. In the event of the permanent closing of a hospital, an institution for unwed mothers or a clinic, such hospital, institution or clinic shall arrange for preservation of such medical records for the time required herein.

The term “record” as used herein shall not include within its meaning the records or proceedings of medical peer review committees as defined in section one.

The reasonable fee under this section may be adjusted to reflect the consumer price index for medical care services, such that the base amount and the per page charge shall be increased by the proportional consumer price index in effect as of October of the calendar year in which the request is made, rounded to the nearest dollar. A hospital or clinic may also charge an additional fee to cover the cost of postage, other priority mailing and preparation of an explanation or summary of the hospital or clinic medical record if so requested.