medical records

Make sure your medical records are instantly available

Cheryl used to work in an emergency room (ER). It was often hard to get an accurate medical history from the patient or family members in the middle of a crisis.

Then Cheryl herself was hit by an underinsured driver in an automobile accident that she describes as "horrific," with good reason: "Only my left arm and hand weren't damaged or broken. Everything else about my body was damaged in some way."

She had more than a dozen operations, and spent the next year in the hospital.

Extreme damage to multiple parts of her body landed her permanently in a wheelchair.

How do you correct your medical records?

Edith’s records in the nursing home said that she was in a wheelchair and needed two aides in order to engage in any activities, such as getting dressed or eating. That had been true in the first week or two after she’d been discharged from the hospital, but it hadn’t been true since then. It was now three months since Edith had landed in the nursing home, but her daughter Alice found that the records still said that she couldn’t function at all on her own.

What should you do with your medical records once you have them?

Previous columns explained how getting a copy of your medical records can make a difference in the tests and treatments you get, in your costs for health care, and ultimately, in your health and well being. Also discussed was how to decide what medical records to get and how to get them. This column explains what to do with your records once you have them.

How do you get copies of your medical records?

Martin had seen a gastroenterologist several times. He was about to see a new primary care doctor, and wanted to have his records so that he could explain his medical history clearly. He called the number he had for the GI doctor and asked how to get a copy of his records. The woman who answered the phone said, “Oh, this is his hospital office. He keeps his records at his other office. I’ll let his secretary know that you want them and she’ll send them to you.”

Which of your medical records do you need to get?

What if you couldn’t see the dashboard in your car, and only police officers could tell how fast you were driving? What if your bank kept your bank statements on file without giving you access to them? What if you were in school, and your teachers didn’t give you your test results?

Do you know what's in your medical records?

In a recent visit, Janice and her doctor discussed whether it would be medically useful for Janice to have an indoor swimming pool at her home. Later, she saw a copy of her medical records from that visit. Here is how that conversation is reported: "(The patient) would like to have a laparoscopic cholecystectomy in her house."

A laparoscopic cholecystectomy is an operation to remove a gall bladder.


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