moneyTwo D.C. hospitals are being sued by patients who say they were forced to pay excessive and illegal charges to obtain copies of their electronic medical records.

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and George Washington University Hospital are accused of violating District consumer protection laws by three patients who say they were asked to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars to get the electronic copies.

The patients are seeking class-action status on behalf of all patients who obtained medical records from the hospitals, the suit says.

According to the suit, an Alexandria couple sent a letter to MedStar Georgetown requesting the electronic medical records from their child’s January 2013 birth, including imaging studies and billing records.

The same month, a D.C. man sent a letter to MedStar Georgetown asking for his electronic medical records for treatment he received in January.

According to the suit, a third-party contractor hired by MedStar called HealthPort responded to each request with invoices — for $1,168 and $1,558, respectively. The charges were for per-page copying fees, a “basic fee” of $22.88, and a shipping-and-handling fee of $16.38, the suit alleges.

“We do not put records on CD. Only paper copy,” the suit quotes the HealthPort invoice as saying.

After both patients disputed the legality of the per-page fee, MedStar Georgetown’s lawyers responded, saying the hospital had offered alternatives for getting electronic medical records “which was not acceptable to you,” according to the suit.

The patients were directed to an online HealthPort Connect portal for electronic copies of their records. The portal also requires the patient to pay per-page fees and a membership fee to store records the electronically until a patient no longer needs them.

By the time the Alexandria couple paid for their records in August, their total charge dropped to $654. But the D.C. man’s final bill ultimately grew to nearly $2,500, including per-page charges, the “basic fee” of $22.88, a handling fee of $1 and an electronic delivery fee of $2.

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