Everyone’s talking about the hospital employees that allegedly accessed information from George Clooney’s medical records after his recent motorcycle accident and shared it with the media. This has led to endless talk in the media about the security and privacy of our medical records and stories of identity fraud as well. One safeguard recommended was to ask for a copy of your medical records to assure their accuracy!
I have been speaking about the importance of patients managing and controlling their own medical records for the past ten years. In fact, I developed a system that helps people do just that and wrote extensively about this in my book, How To Save Your Own Life. In my book, I describe exactly what you need to do to collect your medical information, read and understand the results and reports, and manage your health conditions and preventive tests.
Keeping your own medical records is about so much more than protecting your records from “identity fraud”. 80% of the information a doctor relies on to make a diagnosis comes from your medical history and what is in your medical records. But no one doctor or hospital is likely to have a complete copy of all your medical records – and too often the information is incomplete, inaccurate or simply not read. Furthermore, it is YOUR HEALTH that is on the line. Having a copy of your information helps you see that nothing in your care “falls through the cracks”, that every test result is read and compared to previous readings, and that all the information in the record is yours.
Getting your medical records is easier than you think. With each and every doctor visit, bring a copy of your medical file and a self-addressed stamped envelope. Hand the envelope to your physician and ask for a copy of every test result, x-ray, EKG or consultation report. In the future, it will be your job to see that every doctor, hospital or health practitioner takes a good look at the information in your records so that you can get the best care possible.
This is breast cancer awareness month. Women should ask for copies of their mammogram reports (the actual x-rays can stay with the x-ray department unless you are moving or changing hospitals or x-ray centers) and read them!! They should also ask for a copy of their pathology report which will tell them and future doctors what they need to know to get the best treatment for their breast cancer type.
As always, I welcome your questions and comments.