Facebook Pixel

EmpowHER Yourself: Get Your Medical Records

Rate This

Yesterday I went to my primary care doctor. The physician assistant said, as she looked at my records, ”you haven’t been here in a while.” I agreed, and the next thing she said was “we have to send you for blood work.” This time, I didn’t agree. I had blood work in May as part of a visit to another doctor, to whom my primary care doctor referred me. But she didn’t have the results. His office never send them to the referring physician. And neither did the lab, despite the fact that I have been a patient of both the physician and the lab for ten years.

Thankfully, I had them myself. I hauled out my trusty iPad, got on the office’s (unsecured) wireless network, and retrieved them from Google Health, where I participate in an online pilot program to give patients access to their own records. My insurance company, the pharmacy and the lab upload my results for me. I was able to prove the date of the tests and share the results, saving myself some time and the system some money.

That’s the least significant example of why patients need their own records I can think of. Many other examples involve life and death. Patrick Malone, a leading patient safety advocate, writes a newsletter on health affairs, and I’ve lifted this from his latest issue.

Having your own medical records is an essential first step to becoming an informed, proactive patient. It accomplishes a bunch of things all at once. You become literate in your own body. You learn the lingo your doctors use and you remind yourself of the concerns your doctors have about you that you might rather not think about. You learn a lot about your doctor. Does he or she have an organized set of records? Do they record what you told them in your sessions with reasonable accuracy and completeness? If the answers are no, you might want to think about getting another doctor. You can correct errors. Do your records say something about you that’s just plain wrong? Or do they leave out something important, like an allergy to a common drug such as penicillin?

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Holistic Health

Get Email Updates

Holistic Health Guide


Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!