Medical Records Company Agrees to Make Refunds, Pay $250,000 Penalty


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 26, 1999

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Smart Corporation, a medical records photocopying company, has agreed to pay a $250,000 civil penalty and issue refunds to consumers who the Consumer Protection Division alleged were overcharged.

Smart Corporation, based in Georgia, is one of several companies operating in Maryland retained by hospitals and other health care providers to handle medical records requests from consumers. In May 1998, the Consumer Protection Division alleged that Smart Corporation was routinely overbilling consumers for copies of their medical records, a violation of Maryland law. The overcharges ranged from a few dollars to several hundred dollars per consumer.

Maryland law limits the amounts which consumers may be charged for copies of their medical records. Health care providers and their agents are not permitted to charge more than $15 to retrieve and prepare medical records for photocopying. They may also charge a maximum 50 cents for each page that is photocopied, and the actual cost of postage and handling. Fees for retrieval, preparation, and copying can be adjusted for inflation.

Though Smart denied that it violated the law, it has agreed to charge no more than the statutory limits in the future. It has also agreed to issue refunds to consumers who were charged in excess of the statutory limits. Smart will also pay a $250,000 civil penalty.

"Patients must be given reasonable access to their medical records," said Attorney General Curran. "Overcharging consumers for copies of their own records is inexcusable. This is why we have the law."

Smart Corporation has also agreed to pay the Division's investigative costs.


For Further Information Contact:
Frank Mann
Special Assistant to the Attorney General
(410) 576-6357