Dr. Barron Nason demands former partner release medical records to patients

Dr. Barron Nason moves between examination rooms checking on patients at Nason Medical Center in North Charleston in 2014. All five Nason Medical Center locations abruptly closed last year. Now Nason is demanding that his former business partner release medical records to patients who have requested them.

Dr. Barron Nason is demanding that his former business partner release medical records to patients who have requested them.

In a prepared statement, attorney Hal Cobb, who represents Nason, said his client no longer owns Nason Medical Center, which unexpectedly closed last year. Cobb said Nason ceased ownership of the company in January 2015 but continued working there until February 2016.

This is the first public statement Nason has made since five Nason Medical Center locations closed in November.

Cobb said Nason “had no say-so in the business matters of the company, including, but not limited to, the handling of patient records.”

Several former Nason Medical Center patients have contacted The Post and Courier since the offices closed, expressing frustration that they can’t access their medical records.

State law doesn’t require doctors to notify their patients when they intend to close their practice. The law does mandate that medical records remain available by request, even after an office closes.

Failure to comply with the rule may warrant disciplinary action against a physician by the S.C. Board of Medical Examiners. The board may revoke or suspend a doctor’s medical license.

Lesia Kudelka, a spokeswoman for the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, recently advised patients who have requested copies of their records but have not received them to file a complaint with the Board of Medical Examiners.

She said Wednesday that state law prohibits the board from disclosing whether a complaint has been filed against a physician. Furthermore, she said, the board does not license facilities so it cannot investigate complaints against doctors’ offices, only “licensees.”

In his prepared statement, Cobb said Nason knows that his former patients can’t access their records and that he “supports all efforts to collect” them.

Nason has “sent correspondence demanding that Nason Medical Center LLC provide all patients with their medical records at once,” Cobb said.

Nason formerly owned the business with partners Bob Hamilton and Fariborz Ghadar. The first Nason Medical Center opened in Mount Pleasant in 2005. By 2012, four more centers were open across the Lowcountry.

A 2014 court case revealed infighting among the three partners. Ghadar said Hamilton repeatedly attempted to misrepresent the value of the company to make it appear more profitable than it actually was. At the time, Ghadar alleged Nason Medical Center’s parent company couldn’t pay outstanding bills in excess of $1.2 million.

Last year, the company agreed to pay the federal government more than $1 million to settle fraud allegations. Only Nason and Hamilton were named in the settlement agreement.

Another court case showed Nason Medical Center owed TD Bank $15 million in mortgage loans.

Cobb said he doesn’t know who owns the company now but confirmed his client sent Hamilton a letter Wednesday demanding that the medical records be released. The Board of Medical Examiners received a copy of his letter, too, Cobb said.

Hamilton did not immediately respond to an email sent by the newspaper. A phone number provided by his attorney has been disconnected.

Reach Lauren Sausser at 843-937-5598.