I discovered recently that the American system has a small advantage over the NHS, that I have never heard anyone mention before. It is the idea that a patient's medical records belong to the patient and that the patient is entitled to copies of them. I've had a couple of MRIs done recently (actually four) and the staff at the MRI center are quite happy to give me a copy of the MRI CD as soon as the notes regarding the findings have been transcribed - so I can actually know what was found (or not) BEFORE my appointment with my doctor to discuss the results. My sister commented in a recent email to me "in the UK doctors are really secretive about results of tests - they seem to think that a little knowledge can be very dangerous."
I recently asked for a referral to a specialist, and he asked for copies of my records from the other doctors I had already seen, including my opthalmologist, to be faxed or fedexed to him before he would even make an appointment with me. I assumed the other doctors would send the notes directly to the specialist, but in almost every case their office staff told me I could pick the records up myself. One of the doctors I've seen recently said that he always writes his patient notes with the expectation that at some point the patient will see them. One specialist sent me a copy of the report that he sent to my primary care physician/GP without me even asking for it. Another dictated the notes before I left the room "so you'll know what I'm telling your primary care doc. and you have a chance to correct me if I make a mistake."
It was interesting to see what gets included in the reports.There were entertaining comments such as:
"Denies recent illness. Denies sore throat, cough or nasal congestion."Then there's all the detail about my health of course, most of it understandable, but I did have to look some words up: apparently I have no diploplia, dysdiadochokinesia, ataxia or dysmetria - and that's a good thing! If it sounds like I've had a lot of doctor's appointments recently, yes, I have and there are more to come. Despite the way it may sound, I do not have a life-threatening condition and am not even feeling ill. I do have an immense gratitude to my husband's employer for not going with a high deductible health insurance plan, and I have a cool new photo I can use for my Facebook profile for Halloween!
"well developed and nourished; appropriately groomed; in no apparent distress."
"Communicates appropriately for age"