GettingLifeinOrder Filter
December 9, 2007 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Do I need personal copies of my medical records if I'm in good health?

It's my understanding that the HIPAA and Missouri (where I'm at) law allows me to obtain personal copies of all of my medical records. I'm only 22 and in good health--just some allergy and asthma issues. I've just recently graduated from college, and before that never really had a regular doctor. Would it be at all beneficial to contact the places I've gone for medical care (2 student health clinics, probably 4-5 doctors, a few specialized clinics, 3 dentists, etc) to round up all of my medical records? I'm mostly interested in getting baseline/regular test results: diabetes check, thyroid check, regular paps, cholesterol test, allergy test, etc.

Would this be a good idea, or am I being exceptionally paranoid/overly concerned? How would I go about doing this, if practical, and will it cost me anything? I'm planning on moving out-of-state within the next year, if that makes a difference.

Bonus: Is it rude/abnormal to ask for copies of the results of these types of tests when they are taken?
posted by almostmanda to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If there is a cost, it should be quite minimal (I have been told by my doctor's office that they are only permitted to charge me for the actual cost of making photocopies, and they don't even charge me that). I'm of the "better safe than sorry" school. If a doctor down the line wants to know whether you've ever been tested for X or what the results were of some test you had no reason to know at the time would be important, you'd have it. Get the records, scan them, burn them to a CD, throw it in a drawer somewhere, and forget about it unless and until you ever need it.
posted by decathecting at 4:09 PM on December 9, 2007

Gyno records are good to have, especially if you think for some reason your new doctor(s) where ever you go will have a hard time getting the records if you ever need them. Also, and I wish I'd done this, it might be a good idea to ask student health for a record of your vaccinations, if your parents don't have that. It's one of those things that seems to come up from time to time, and I never expect it.
posted by Medieval Maven at 4:11 PM on December 9, 2007

Best answer: First off, it's not rude at all to ask for copies of anything. It's your medical care and you have every right to ask for them. Not only that, but it's always a good idea to get those copies.

As for tracking down people for medical records. There are only a few things that you must absolutely follow. This would be any immunizations, chronic conditions (anything ongoing, such as your allergies), conditions requiring prescription medications, or any specialized procedures or tests done that reveal abnormalities.

It's really up to you and what you feel comfortable with. If you elect to leave the records behind, just be sure to keep your own records of doctors you have visited (with dates) in case anything ever comes up.

Good luck and I hope this helps you. :)
posted by magnoliasouth at 4:14 PM on December 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yes, you are entitled to copies of your medical record for purposes of continuity of care (i.e. for your future doctors in new localities, etc.) They are permitted to charge you a reasonable administrative fee for copies, but there are not strict nationwide rules for what those exact values are. Also, be very specific in the type of information you want. For instance, in the case of imaging tests (like MRI, X-Ray, etc.) be sure to ask for a copy of the actual image (in digital format or otherwise) rather than the radiologist's interpretation / dictation of those images. Requests like yours are made routinely.
posted by dendrite at 5:18 PM on December 9, 2007

There are times when you may need that info that you can't anticipate now. For example, my parents could not have anticipated that I would need inoculation information in order to immigrate to the US, and that the Nova Scotia government would destroy old inoculation info. (Luckily, they had kept the cards from my school showing that I got my shots.) It's neither rude nor paranoid.

When I've done this, it's been free. I've never asked for anything like x-ray film (never been x-rayed) so I was just getting photocopies. It was always treated as a very routine request.
posted by joannemerriam at 5:26 PM on December 9, 2007

I would. You're in good health now, but there's a real benefit in seeing, for example, that every time you've had X test, your results have been a little on the low side. It's that sort of thing that a doctor would find useful but that will show up as "everything's normal" to you. Especially with allergies and asthma, which can produce big patterns but only when seen over time. Also, knowing now how many times I moved around--countries, cities, doctors--between the ages of 22-32, I wish I'd asked for my medical records over time. Get them, scan them, shred them and put them on a USB drive. No harm and a lot of peace of mind.
posted by cocoagirl at 5:37 PM on December 9, 2007

I'd keep the paper, considering that you might not look at them again for ten or twenty years and who knows whether your USB drive or CDR will still be readable then.
posted by hattifattener at 6:31 PM on December 9, 2007

I have found a lot of mistakes in my medical records so I think it is worth getting copies periodically just for that reason.
posted by fshgrl at 6:44 PM on December 9, 2007

The particular notes from your various encounters with medical folks aren't likely to be very helpful for your future health care providers. What will be helpful is to keep copies of all of your laboratory tests: CBC, metabolic panels, hormone tests etc. Sometimes a single result from one of these tests isn't useful, but the ability to line up years of these tests and look at the trends or changes in them is extremely useful. So make sure to keep any reports: radiology, pathology, laboratory.

Also, your vaccinations.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 4:33 AM on December 10, 2007

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