Retaining Charts Until Patients Pay

April 1, 2009

A patient owes a large balance, is aware of it, and instead of paying wants to transfer her records to another physician to avoid paying her balance. Are we allowed legally to hold her chart until she pays?

Question: A patient owes a large balance, is aware of it, and instead of paying wants to transfer her records to another physician to avoid paying her balance. Are we allowed legally to hold her chart until she pays?

Answer: No, I’m sorry, you can’t hold the chart. The patient has a right to it to continue treatment.

The lesson for you is to do what you can to collect ASAP.

You might also follow up with the patient. Maybe she isn’t paying because she was dissatisfied or had some problem. Don’t assume she is just trying to get out of paying for the heck of it.