Knowledge Is Power

Posted on September 30, 2015

It’s important that you know what is documented in your medical records, since well-informed patients are more likely to take better care of themselves, adhere to prescribed treatments, and be more proactive about their health care.

For many reasons, what you hear from your doctors during office visits or hospital stays, and what is actually recorded about you in the medical records may be quite different.  Medical records can influence your care, reimbursement, and eligibility for benefits.  So, it is useful to know what is actually documented about you. See relevant article in NY Times.

Undoubtedly, you will encounter some resistance to sharing your medical information. “The person with the least access to data in the system is the patient,” as noted in this NY Times article.  “You can get your records, but the burden is always on the patient.”

Despite the obstacles, it is important that you advocate assertively to obtain your medical information. Knowledge is indeed power.  While individuals may vary as to how much detailed medical information they wish to know, the fact is that copies of your medical records are important to review to help insure coordinated, informed, quality care. It is your right to know what is written about your diagnosis, health condition, prognosis, and recommended treatments.

Some tips to obtain your medical records: Ask your doctor directly for the records during your medical visit. Request the CD after getting scans or x-rays.  Ask for copies of your records at the time of service, don’t wait until later when you have to go through various administrative levels to obtain your medical records.

Organizing the medical information you gather using your own  Personal health records (PHR) is a good way to keep track of, and communicate, your health care needs and medical history.

It is essential that you do all you can to insure that you are receiving the highest quality care possible.