Transparency of Medical Records

As medical records move to paperless and digital, there is still the age old question of who has access to the records.  Specifically, if you can see your own medical record.  There was even a hilarious Seinfeld episode about it, featuring Kramer as Dr. Van Nostrand to try and obtain Elaine's medical records after her doctor refuses to give it to her.
While the law was not clear, individual states began granting access rights to patients until HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) gave patents the right to access their medical history.  However, obtaining medical history with HIPAA requires navigating bureaucracy and exorbitant copying fees, dissuading most from accessing their own health records.  A one-year research study is under way at three health systems to evaluate the effects of allowing patients full access to their medical records, including e-mails before and after visits detailing previous visit history. There is still reason for debate; does providing patients with doctors' notes empower them or cause them undue panic?  Also, does sharing information leave doctors more susceptible to lawsuits?  The study will hopefully begin to answer some of these questions, but for now, good luck trying to see your own medical records.


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