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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year: It's your medical record, but you can't see it

Two of my encounters with the healthcare system yesterday ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous. First, the sublimely good one: I went to our veterinarian's office to buy some toothpaste for my dog. When I asked for it, they asked my last name. I was given the toothpaste, and I paid for it. With the receipt, the clerk handed me a one-page printout listing the dates for Jackson's next well-dog checkup and the next three years of immunizations, with his photo and name, address, and owners at the top of the page. I was delighted: without my even asking, they gave me tailored information to keep my beloved pet healthy.

Then, later in the afternoon, the ridiculous. I brought another beloved pet, my daughter, to see a sports medicine doctor for a minor issue. I asked the clerk to see her medical record. They couldn't give it to me. Why? For privacy reasons. Whose privacy?! Well…it's policy, so we can't. Why did I want it? To do my homework in advance, and to save the doctor's time during the appointment. Following their procedure, I filled out a paper release form, to be handled by Medical Records. Could I FAX them the release, and have them FAX me the record? You'd need to call Medical Records for that. OK; I called, but could only get a recording that said they'd need 7 to 10 days to mail the doctor's progress note to me. I talked to the Practice Administrator. I couldn't get my daughter's record in advance, nor could my daughter. Well, whose record is it? It's yours, but our policy says you can't see it. Who set the policy – the Director of Nursing? No. The CEO? No, a committee.

They had me; I was stumped, and we both knew it. Those were the magic words: "policy," and "committee." That meant logic and reasonableness wouldn't matter.

Advice for a New Year's resolution for dealing with a very old-fashioned medical system: To get "your" medical record, either keep a copy of the doctor's last note about your visit, or ask your doctor's Medical Records unit, two weeks in advance, to send it to you.

Read another story on my dog's medical record.

1 comment:

nurse scrubs said...

Commonly, the medical record of a person is considered as exclusive and a private matter. This is to prevent any fraud or any bad things that may happen because of the disclosure of the said medical record. However, even I still wonder that the person who need his medical record has a limited access to his own record. Whew!