Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Doctors concerns about turning over their patients' notes

Most patients feel that having access to their doctor's notes would be helpful in that they could be more proactive in their own medical care. The majority of doctors, on the other hand, felt ill at ease in sharing such notes.

It's interesting to note that certain doctors are resisting a change in the way medical practice is conducted. Such doctors opposed to making their notes more available were concerned that:

  1. Their notes would be misinterpreted
  2. The information could be confusing or frightening to their patients
  3. That they may have to alter or censor their notes to prevent inferences of medical malpractice

The last of the doctors' concerns may not be legitimate. Such medical records have been available to patients at the University of Texas for a number of years, but there has been no increase found in medical malpractice cases.

And though such transparency may change the way that doctors prepare their notes, it may also force the doctors to simplify what they have written to make it more understandable to the patient. In certain circumstances differing protocol may need to be used depending on the records in questions. For example, increased precautions may need to be taken if we are talking about psychiatric notes prepared by a medical doctor.

Often having the notes available to patients has answered some of their questions that they were going to initially ask their doctor, and this has resulted in freeing up some of the doctor's time. And having the notes available has sometimes prompted patients to comply with their doctor's advice concerning the patients taking better care of their health. Patients are more likely to follow their doctor's advice concerning losing weight or taking the correct dosage of medications.

Source: Time, "Can Patients Handle the Truth? Getting Access to Doctors' Notes," by Alice Park, Dec. 20, 2011

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