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The Importance of Obtaining Your Medical Records

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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

One may think that there really isn’t any reason to obtain copies of your medical records for yourself, but there is. It is always advisable to request copies of your records, particularly any diagnostic tests, pathology reports--including Pap test results--and surgical reports, to name a few.

As a patient, you are entitled to copies of your records by law. No provider’s office can deny you copies of your records. They may, however, charge you a fee which is typically regulated by individual state laws.

Many providers now utilize electronic devices to record or transmit their notes to be typed by a medical transcriptionist. It is possible for a transcriptionist to incorrectly interpret what is being dictated and, if the provider does not read each completed dictation word-for-word, chances are any mistakes will not be picked up. Some of these may make no difference whatsoever to your care. However, omitting a word can have drastic effects, especially when these records are sent to another provider. A stark but powerful example of this would be “Evidence of disease” versus “No evidence of disease”.

Patients must change doctors for a variety of reasons: moving to another area, or a change in insurance carriers in which your provider does not participate, to name a few. This requires giving your information to a new provider. There may be aspects of your family, social, or prior history which may not have been understood correctly by the new provider.

There is a medical database out there which is utilized by insurance companies in reviewing your health history. If a condition is indicated by your provider in your records which is inaccurate this can be passed along inadvertently and result in denial of life insurance, for example. This may be because of a condition or disease in your records which you actually do not have. It is obviously important to get these errors corrected and updated copies provided to the MIB (medical information bureau).

When it comes to pathology results with a biopsy or cytology results as with a Pap smear it’s important to be able to read these for yourself, especially if the results were not good.

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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.