Patients Given Easy Access to Medical Records


When you visit a medical provider you most likely watch them type or write notes as you explain your condition. If you are like most people, you have probably wondered just what is being said about you in your medical record. Most of us may never know. Even though a patient is absolutely entitled to get a copy of his or her medical records under New York Public Health Law Sections 17 and 18, access can prove challenging.

A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has shown that patients may benefit when their medical records are openly shared and easily accessible. Such an approach encourages patients to be more engaged in their health and wellbeing.

Jan Walker, from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the study’s lead author explained, “Knowledge is power….A patient goes to the doctor only once in a while but in between visits, you’re making all kinds of decisions that affect your health every single day.”

By creating more of a collaborative environment, patients may take more ownership of their health and therefore make better decisions. Patients may better understand treatment plans, avoid medication errors and remember to follow-up about various conditions. Additionally, patients may notice if their physician misunderstood them, or if there are inaccuracies in their medial record.

Physicians were concerned that patients would be confused or worried after seeing their records, and therefore require more of their time. Patients, however, largely appreciated the opportunity. Ninety percent expected they would be in greater control of their healthcare by having access to their records.

Since early research seems to indicate that patients having access to their medical records is beneficial, hopefully this type of open collaboration between doctors and their patients will continue and expand.

Source: The New York Times, Project Puts Records in the Patients’ Hands, Roni Caryn Rabin, 9 January 2012

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