I recently had a dispute with a patient. I learned, after a satisfactory medical outcome, and a good doctor-patient relationship, that her insurance would not pay the bill; the policy having lapsed before the date of service. Immediately upon receiving this information from me, the patient switched to another MD, and requested her record be faxed to her. She received a fax within 48 hours.
The patient, however, seeking a justification for not paying the bill, sought to create an uproar to end the relationship. She refused to admit that she had received a fax in return for her faxed request. (My office fax produces a receipt.)
The patient reported her inability to produce records to her new MD, and the office staff called my office on her behalf several times; insisting on being connected directly to me, and succeeding.
She reported me to the Medical Director of the Hospital where I am President of the Medical Staff (a voluntary position), and she received encouragement and instructions on how to contact the Dept. of Health and file a complaint of non-professional conduct, despite the fact that there no hospital care was involved. The Medical Director called and informed me of the patient's rights.
The Dept of Health, Division of Professional Conduct, Office of Records Access, contacted me, and also advised me of her rights.
She filed an additional complaint with the insurance company that had not paid the bill to begin with, and personnel from this company contacted me to complain on her behalf.
I resolved this (I think) by offering to send an additional copy of the records to the Dept. of Health; they agreed to send me proper release forms.
In summary, the patient was able to marshall pwerful forces against me: Her new MD; and an additional MD working for a hospital; the State; and an Insurance company. She had, it should be noted, received exemplary care, and she was satisfied until she learned that she would have to pay for it (a relatively small sum, actually). I, on the other hand, had been subject to theft of services, medical supplies, and the fradulent use of an insurance card. However, not one of the people who spoke on her behalf was willing to listen, or to take any action concerning what was due to me.