Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dear Mr. Attorney,

I appreciate you sending payment for Mrs. Jones' medical records.

As you know, her chart was quite large, so printing it up took quite a bit of time and paper. You also wanted me to have it notarized, so I had to drag it down to Local Bank and wait in line.

Then postage was a fortune, since you wanted it sent certified.

Anyway, because it took some time and effort, I enclosed a cover letter asking for $50 payment. Your office manager was kind enough to send me a check for $50 last month to cover this, on the same day she received the packet.

So it was quite a surprise to get a personal note from you yesterday, saying that you felt the $50 was excessive. You did some calculations in your letter, and said that (based on state law) you only owed me $27.45, instead of the $50 I'd previously asked for (and received).

But it was still nice of you to send a check for $27.45 attached to your letter, paying me what you thought was "reasonable, and more than fair" for Mrs. Jones' records.

I've deposited both checks, and thank you and your law firm for having paid me a total of $77.45 for a chart I'd only asked $50 for in the first place. Extra money around the holidays is always nice.

Yours truly,

Ibee Grumpy, M.D.


Anonymous said...

I think $77.45 is reasonable and more than fair for all that work. :-)


pelican said...

WOW! Wow, wow, wow!

If I can say one good thing about attorneys ... I've *never* had one quibble about any amount of money under a few grand. Never.

In fact, many of them start with the idea that they'll be sending a secretary and a portable copier to my office for records, so I've always figured they realize they're getting an excellent deal when we copy things ourselves for $50 or whatever (although I've also always figured that was a bluff and they didn't really *intend* to send the secretary & copier ... that is the *last* thing we need around here- unless they plan on letting us keep both the secretary and the extra copier on a permanent basis).

Sheesh, even SSDI happily pays $25 for record copying.

This guy ... clearly, his office manager is keeping him in business.

I hope you're not going to be needing to deal with him again.

Anonymous said...

send him a bill for $50 for your time spent corresponding with him.

Anonymous said...

Couple of pointers, based on long experience:

No records before payment received;

If they want it notarized, they can hire a notary to come to the office;

If they want it sent certified, they can come to office and pick it up;

If they want a refund, THAT is sent certified, in the form of pennies in a large box.

It's war out there!

Maggie said...

When I worked as a paralegal (we handled both insurance defense and plaintiffs' cases), we'd always engage a professional document service to go on-site and copy the records.

We didn't want to risk missing some documents, we wanted to make sure the photocopies were legible and properly sorted and bound, that the document copier either was, or had access to, a notary, and we'd want to make sure there was a record of the records we obtained so that when other parties got involved and served requests for production of documents, we could direct them to the company to get their own copies.

But first and foremost, we didn't want to antagonize the provider in any way, shape, or form, because we knew that we might need your good will at some point, and being litigators, we knew we'd be starting out with an automatic half-the-distance-to-the-goal penalty.

In conclusion, you were dealing with one dumb-ass lawyer who should (but won't) feel damn lucky he got what he did for a measly $77.45.

Lovin Life! said...

I love it! He probably regularly bends people over for money. Dickhead.

The Forsiv Man said...

Of course, he'll be billing the client $200 for the hour it took him to look up the relevant state laws, do the calculations, and write you the note.

Anonymous said...

You may have just gotten the office manager in big trouble (for paying you).

It's been my experience that attorney's offices provide a postage prepaid envelope for anything they want back.

jamiegirl said...

Gosh, are you sure he is not on your patient roster already??? He sounds just like someone who will need to see you in the near future ~ isn't confusion and repeating yourself a neuro concern???

Dr. Dad said...

Not sure where you practice, but in Texas there is a mandate regarding physician's charging for copying records--@20 for the first 25 pages, then 50 cents per page thereafter. You can charge $15 for notarizing, and you can charge actual cost for postage. If you write a "narrative" of what's in the records, you can charge a "reasonable" fee in addition. This rule applies to whomever requests the records, even lawyers. You can actually get in trouble for overcharging here.
Even using our required fees, if the chart was more than about 40 pages, he still got a good deal.

Chris said...

I'm a legal assistant, have been for a long time, and I agree with the previous poster - no records until payment is received. $50 for an extensive office chart is nothing - do you have any idea what hospitals charge for records? Hospitals have companies that come in and copy charts so their staff doesn't have to do it, and a huge chart, say for a long ICU stay, can be upwards of $1,000 (they charge per page). Attorneys are so freaking annoying (I should know, I've had various ones signing my paychecks for the last 20 years).

Reality Jayne said...

Dr Grumpy you do crack me up!

The Mother said...

I would add that we got our office manager to get a notary license. Saves us tons of time and effort each year.

The Good Cook said...

Somebody's secretary is in trouble... about $27 plus change worth.

The Duchess said...

Send the letter with a xerox of your middle finger :)

Matt said...

If that attorney had that kind of time on his hands--to do such calculations and then personally draft a letter on something this insignificant--then I can certainly see how $23 really is a big deal to him. Clearly, he isn't overloaded with real work or else he'd have just said to hell with it.

Regardless, congrats on the extra cash. Think of it as compensation for having to put up with his bullshit.

Anonymous said...

why is it that 95% of lawyers give the rest a bad name?

student dr. blaze said...

Sounds like there's some more money to put toward the Diet Coke slush fund! :-)

Kimbra Kasch said...

You've gotta be kidding me - only $50.00 that's a steal.

RI Vet Tech said...

As my mother would say, your laughing all the way to the bank!

T.L. said...

Dr. Grumpy,

I recently discovered your blog through a Reddit commenter and have thoroughly enjoyed it. When I first read this post a couple weeks ago, I had unfortunately run out of my Citalopram for anxiety and due to moving, insurance changes, and a surprising dearth of psychiatrists where I live (even my new psychiatrist commented that he had never seen anywhere with such a high need for psychiatric services with so few providers), so I took this post really personally, but thankfully I didn't post.

I have no idea if you read comments from posts this old, but in case you do, I'd like to say a few things.

1. I'm a formal paralegal (with a lot of PI experience) who recently finished law school but hasn't taken the bar yet. I've dealt with A LOT of medical records.

2. Other commenters are right that usually nothing under $50 or $100 (depending on the firm) triggers closer inspection, but if the case was a bankruptcy case, for example, the attorney is not allowed to charge anything above actual costs, and in those cases, costs are closely monitored by the courts. It is also possible that the amount the client received in the case was small enough that a few dollars makes a difference. (The lawyer may well be greedy; I'm just offering a few other possibilities.)

3. Some medical providers (especially chiropractors and "pain management") can be really scummy and overcharge. I generally only had the overcharging for records problem with copy services who wanted to add an "admin fee" to everything.

4. The lawyer was probably technically right about your billing. The state where I was a paralegal (Nevada) disallows any extra fees but gives a fairly high per page fee to cover the admin costs. The actual postage costs and notary fee would have also been chargeable to the lawyer.

5. The paralegal probably authorized the check with your invoice without clearing it with an attorney.

6. We generally prefer electronic records. It is cheaper for both of us and easier for you.

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