I cannot recall in what year I first started seeing my primary care physician, but I do know that even years later, his records on me are missing a lot of my history and past exams and records. Why? Because the system that my records were generated with and stored on with my former primary care physician was not compatible with this doctor’s software, and because the previous provider’s system reportedly refused to send him everything when patients transferred care.
Of course, that shouldn’t be — patients should be able to sign a request and have all their records transferred to their new provider or at a least provided to the patient herself as a copy, but the reality is that it never happened.
So unless I remembered ever important test or incident in my history, there’s a good chance that it is not in my current doctor’s records on me. Could that come back to bite me one day? You bet it could. But even on a day-to-day basis in 2018, as new records are generated, are they accurately shared and provided to others involved in a patient’s care? Are patients getting less than appropriate medical care because of gaps in how information is shared today?
I tend to focus on the privacy and confidentiality of medical records, but in the vast majority of cases, that is not the biggest concern. The biggest concern is, and remains, the failure of our health system to ensure that each patient has a complete and up-to-date medical record.
The following is a long piece on Undark.org by a physician. I’d really encourage everyone to read it because it could save the life of your child, your parent, your sibling, your friend….. yourself. It’s not about protecting privacy. It’s about protecting lives.