Because I haven't have medical insurance for the past 10 years and didn't see the doctor much in that time frame, it has been an interesting journey into how medical care has evolved since I last participated. I am amazed at the new way my surgeon takes my blood pressure, and the way almost everybody takes blood now with a "butterfly". Now if only there was a way to look inside a woman's breast without smashing it. How come we don't have that one handled yet?
Anyway, one of the big disappointments is that medical offices seem to be in constant chaos. I learned early that just because I ask one office to send my records to another office doesn't actually mean that it will be done. If fact, I've learned that it pretty much won't get done.
So, now I arrive to every appointment with my up-to-the-minute medical records file in tow. This file holds every single paper generated from every single visit. I offer each physician the updates and they always happily copy them. This was so odd to me at first, but I realized that if I were to step up and take responsibility for the distribution of my own records, I would be the ultimate winner.
It's interesting to see what they write about me in the files. Each visit offers an assessment of how I "presented" such as, "is pleasant and upbeat", "seems informed and knowledgeable," and there is always mention that I have been "chaperoned" (my girls are with me).
Getting the records is much easier than BI (before insurance). I remember that offices and hospitals wouldn't give you your own records under any circumstances, but instead they would send them directly on to the requesting physician. It's probably because of the things that they said about you that they didn't want you to see. Thanks to new HPPA rules, records must be given to a patient who requests them. I bet physicians are kinder now, knowing that patients will be reading what they wrote about them.
But regardless of what they write, it's kind of comforting knowing that I have my whole file with me and can produce my health situation in its entirety at any moment. Dear friends Lucki and Sandy Latimer recommend a complex filing system that includes dates, notes, and all records held in a single journal. They advised to always bring along another set of ears, eyes, and hands so that second person can take notes enabling the patient to dialog freely.