Tuesday, March 15, 2005

on obtaining medical records

I know HIPAA was supposed to protect patients and prevent their confidential medical information from being released without their prior consent, etc.

What I'm finding is that many providers use it as a convenient excuse to refuse to release my records to me!

It's massively annoying. The doctors' offices will not, for example, fax my records to a private number -- mine -- although they will happily fax them to another doctor. Grrrrr. The medical records people at the hospital where I had my post-RAI scans done will not fax, mail, or otherwise release only the reports to me at all; the reports and the films have to be released together, when given to a patient! I don't want the films, I just want the reports, thankyouverymuch. Again, grrrrr.

Now, combine this nonsense (refusal to release my own records to me), with the fact that my new ENT's office refused to accept reports on me before my first appointment, and you can see the bind I'm in. The ENT's office folks say, "Bring all your reports with you, you don't have a file yet so we won't know what to do with reports that come in before you do," but the medical records people are all, "We will only send this to the doctor's office, not to you."

I have managed, through persistance (including showing up in person) to get every report I need to bring to the ENT tomorrow, except for the WBS reports from the hospital. And the very nice woman in the file room there advised me that I should just call them first thing in the morning, and they will fax the report over to the doctor's office then; since I'm on the schedule early, hopefully they'll know what to do with the reports. And hopefully they will make a copy of them for me! What a run around.

I wish there was some standard form that I could fill out for every one of my providers that said, "Automatically forward a copy of all lab test results, operating reports, pathology reports, and any other pertinent analytic results to this patient." Then I would just get the stuff via some established procedure, and I wouldn't have to be a colossal pest to every medical office worker I come into contact with.

I don't like being a pest. I like not having my test results and reports even less, though. If I hadn't pestered for my blood test results last spring, I'd probably still be walking around with a cancerous thyroid.

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