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The Benefits of Seeing Your Medical Records

Posted By Boone Callaway
The Benefits of Seeing Your Medical Records

Why is Reviewing Your Medical Records Important?

“Looking at my medical notes helped me save my life.”
In reviewing her own medical notes, Pamela Desalvo was inspired by the objectivity in looking at her PDF copy of all of her past medical histories and notes. The line “clinically morbidly obese” inspired DeSalvo to take action and begin her weight-loss journey to improve her health and overcome her weight-related issues.

Reading that one line in her medical notes allowed for DeSalvo to be honest with herself and prompted her to take action in getting her health and wellbeing back. With this experience in mind, DeSalvo helped Atrium Health implement a system that makes it as easy as possible for patients and doctors to share their notes with one another.

Typically after a doctor’s appointment, the patient is sent home with a list of medications, summaries, charts, and reminders regarding their recent visit. Many times these summaries can be confusing and too sparse for the patient to fully understand. When patients can see the doctor’s notes, they will find much more detailed information about all aspects of the visit, including the doctor’s thoughts on issues the patient may be experiencing, verbatim notes some of what the patient has said, medications, billings, and much more.

What are the Benefits of Reviewing Your Medical Records?

Not only do these more-detailed notes give the patient a better sense of their own health, studies show that access to this information allows the patient to feel more in control of their health and gaining a better understanding of their medications; resulting in an increasing compliance in taking these medications. Only a small share, between 1-8%, felt that access to these notes created confusion or offense. Although there are many benefits that come with easier access to medical records for the patients and doctors, some doctors may find it uncomfortable with the language they use knowing that the patient has full access. Some doctors may even refrain from adding a key piece of information that could help another healthcare provider if they think they would offend the patient.

Access to one’s medical notes may not always be accompanied by a deeper understanding of your overall health, but it may also lead to a reassurance in the confidence of the medical field. With so many details of all of the past examinations and visits, reading these notes help assure the patient that their doctors truly are listening and care.

In fact, Liz Salmi, an individual from Sacramento living with brain cancer, found her records to serve as more as a “time capsule,” giving her the peace of mind that her doctors were listening to her every word. Sometimes, the value in the level of detail in a medical record can serve as a historical record of the past, adding to the benefits of access to these notes.        

Despite the many benefits of the access to medical records, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that has been in law since 1996 which grants the patient the rights to receive copies of their own medical history and notes does not mean that getting these valuable documents is an easy or efficient task. In a study conducted by cardiologist and professor at Yale University, Dr. Krumholz found that it is clear that Americans have a difficult time accessing their own medical records.

According to OpenNotes, the research group that is pro-access for medical records, there are approximately 40 million users who take advantage of shared clinical notes via electronic health record software. Despite the large number, each software is unique and differs in the ease of navigating and interface quality. OpenNotes is working hard to streamline this data to be as clear and helpful to patients as possible.

What Can We Do To Help?

Here at Callaway and Wolf, we care deeply about patient’s rights. In dealing with our clients’ personal injury and medical malpractice cases, we encourage everyone to be as informed and aware of their own health as possible. Seeing and hearing first-hand the consequences of personal injuries, we urge you to make sure you understand as much as you can when it comes to your health. We understand it is incredibly difficult to be a patient, trying to make sense of your health is no small undertaking. If you do find that you have experienced an injury due to the fault of another, we will help you get the monetary settlements you need to recover financially, physically, and emotionally. We understand the magnitude of an event involving these types of cases, affecting both you and your loved ones. We take pride in making sure that those responsible should justly pay for both your physical injuries along with the pain and suffering endured.

Is There a Risk for Me?

Like most personal injury attorneys, we work on a contingency. That means you’ll never pay a penny to us up-front. Only when we win your financial verdict or settlement will we be paid. If your case does not succeed, you will not owe us any money.

Time is of the Essence, the Sooner the Better

The California statute of limitations on personal injury claims is generally two years, but the longer you wait, the harder it is to pursue compensation. Call us today at 415-541-0300 to schedule a personal meeting in our San Francisco office with our legal team.

Works Cited:

Knight, Victoria. “Why You Should Take A Peek At Your Doctor's Notes On Your Health.” Kaiser Health News, 19 June 2019, khn.org/news/patients-should-read-doctors-notes-on-chart-to-improve-health/.

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About the Author:

Boone Callaway

Since 1988, Boone has developed expertise in complex medical issues involving both injuries and doctor’s errors. Boone has tried numerous personal injury and medical malpractice cases to juries, judges, and arbitrators in the Bay Area. Our reputation as plaintiff’s personal injury attorneys precedes us. Insurance companies in particular know that we are great lawyers who work hard for our clients, skillfully negotiating settlements when possible, but willing to take matters to trial to ensure our clients receive a fair outcome.Handling Car Accidents for Clients in San FranciscoThe majority of personal injury cases in California result from auto accidents. Here are some of the things anyone injured in an auto accident should know. While over 90% of motor vehicle accidents settle before trial, or even settle without the filing of a lawsuit, much of the work in preparing and pursuing these cases is based upon how well the parties believe the case would do in court, and on whether the party at fault believes that the injured party will really try the case if a fair settlement is not offered. Our law firm has a reputation as experienced San Francisco car accident lawyers, and we have handled hundreds of cases involving car, truck, motorcycle and bike accidents.Find Boone Callaway OnlineGoogle Maps: Callaway & Wolf Personal Injury LawyersLegal Reach: Personal injury law firmLegal Advice Profile: Accident attorney Boone CallawayContact Boone CallawayCall today to schedule... View full business profile here: Boone Callaway