Can a doctor charge a feeif a patient emails them to inquireabout possible drug interactionswith a prescribed medicine?

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Can a doctor charge a feeif a patient emails them to inquireabout possible drug interactionswith a prescribed medicine?

I was charged $50 for emailing my psychiatrist a question about possible drug interactions for a medicine I was recently prescribed by him and a new one prescribed by a pain management doctor a week later. I did not think he could charge me for a question about a medicine he prescribed me. Also, $50 seems like an unreasonable fee. I am a new patient; I only had one face to face meeting. This does not seem like it is a “good faith” practice. His web site is under construction so I could not find an e-mail for a nurse. I would have called but I figured an e-mail would be more convenient for the doctor.

Asked on February 22, 2011 under General Practice, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You took up time from your psychiatrist, who is a professional paid (well) by the hour. While one medication may have been prescribed by him, you were asking about it's interaction with another medication presribed after he had prescribed his medication--i.e. about a new situation that did not exist at the time of his prescription. There is no law against a professional charging for the time spent answering questions--other than for free advice websites, for example, lawyers charge for the time spent answering client questions. Since the question was about a new situation, it does not seem unreasonable for your psychiatrist to charge for it. Whether $50 is excessive or not is a context-dependent issue--what is his hourly rate? how much time did he spend answering it (he may have had to do some research)? Etc.


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