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Hospitals And Doctors Battle Over Patients and Their Medical Records in Boston – No PHRs Yet to Share

Posted Nov 02 2009 10:01pm

This is probably not the first time this has happened and won’t be the last with competition between hospitals and doctors who leave one to go to image another.  This is apparently what this entire battle is over, the patient records!   Caritas has had some tough financial times and apparently Mount  Auburn is presenting a better opportunity for them.  In 2008 the MDs were told they would not be seeing any increases in income.  Caritas recently sold some of their labs to Quest Diagnostics and is working to come out of their financial woes and earlier this year a couple hospitals in their group were closed.  Reorganization is never a bowl of cherries; however, this has gone from the bowl of cherries into the pits with arguing over patient records, when we are supposed to be promoting better health care by sharing our knowledge, and the patients end up getting the bad deal out of this situation.

Caritas was ready to come and in get the records of 3-4000 patients.  At least the judge made a decision where neither party would lose access.  Paul Levy at Beth Israel Deaconess added his comments on his blog, patients suffer, not to mention the time and effort going on with this battle.  It seems rather fruitless and without cause.  One thing is somewhat brings to the forefront though for us as patients to be aware of, is that situations like this will and unfortunately do arise, so get your own personal health record going in your own defense.  As I have always said, the PHRs are a back up, so when records are not available, you have yours to share, and they may not be as complete as the hospital has on file, but if you take time to get what you can, i.e. medications from the drugs stores and pharmacy benefit managers, list your allergies in the file, and perhaps add your labs from Quest and Labcorp, then you have a whole lot more than zero.   A few patients are lucky enough with some hospitals of being able to get some of their records into a PHR, so if they are available, go get the PHR and get what is available. 

Just a week ago I posted about Caritas partnering with Microsoft HealthVault, so perhaps this is a potential answer here as far as sharing the records as the judge ordered, depending upon if there are all on paper or perhaps some portions of the records being electronic.  Both Google Health and image HeatlhVault have a very inexpensive Fax service, like less than $10 a year for an incoming fax, so even if the records are still all paper, at least it would be a simple process to fax the documents and have those available in a PHR. 

This is just a bit of insanity that really shouldn’t be there, especially when it comes to patient care and has to end up in court and you never know when it could happen again, so our best defense is to be ready for it and get the PHRs going!   Drama kings and queens could lurk anywhere.  BD 

First came the voicemail reminiscent of Tony Soprano. Then, plans by two popular primary care doctors to leave Caritas Christi Health Care for Mount Auburn Hospital led to a dispute over who keeps their patients’ medical records that landed in court.

The two doctors asked Superior Court Judge Christine M. Roach for a temporary restraining order on Thursday, to stop Caritas Christi from taking 3,000 to 4,000 records from their Watertown office at 8 a.m. yesterday. In their motion, Dr. Paul M. Fergus and Dr. David J. Cancian said what should have been a “smooth transition’’ from Caritas St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center to Mount Auburn has turned into “a grudge match.’’

The judge partially granted the doctors’ request, saying the two sides must agree, at least for now, upon a neutral location for the records to which they each have “reasonable access,’’ according to a transcript provided by the doctors’ lawyer, Katherine Young Fergus. The judge also told Caritas to provide patients with a forwarding telephone number for the two doctors.

Restraining order on doctors’ records OK’d - The Boston Globe

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