August 17, 1995
Mr. John Thomas
Wende Correctional Facility
P.O. Box 1187
Alden, NY 14004
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence.
Dear Mr. Thomas:
I have received your letter of August 9 in which you sought guidance in attempting to obtain your hospital treatment records from the Rochester General Hospital.
In this regard, the statute within the Committee's advisory jurisdiction, the Freedom of Information Law, pertains to records maintained by entities of state and local government. I am unaware of whether the Rochester City Hospital is a private or governmental facility. Irrespective of that factor, the statute that deals specifically with patients' rights of access to their medical treatment records is §18 of the Public Health Law. In brief, that statute generally requires that a provider of medical treatment, such as a hospital or a physician, grant access to medical records to the subject of the records, a so-called "qualified person" [see §18(1)(g)]. It is also noted that §18(2)(e) states that:
"The provider may impose a reasonable charge for all inspections and copies, not exceeding the costs incurred by such provider. However, the reasonable charge for paper copies shall not exceed seventy-five cents per page. A qualified person shall not be denied access to patient information solely because of inability to pay." I hope that I have been of some assistance.
Robert J. Freeman