Friday, July 4, 2008

Me but not Mine

Yesterday while reclining cozily beneath a heated blanket amidst closed curtains, dressed in my hospital snaps & ties gown and blue fuzzy socks, I sought some mental activity. Spying a three ring notebook with MY NAME prominently displayed upon it, I curiously opened it up to view my charts. Moments later a nurse arrived, removed it from my possession and took it with her when she left. Oh, well. Gave me time for prayer & praise music.

Fast forward to my coming out of anesthesia in the recovery room. I've already been given the lovely photo of Polly Polyp - prior to her purging - and am seeking something on which to focus as the drugs wear off and my balance returns. Viola! The notebook is back!

This time I make it to page three when the nurse returns, quickly removing the book from the side table, visibly upset and scolding me as if I were a child.

"What are you doing looking at your charts? You know you are not allowed to look at them!"


"No, I don't know I'm not allowed to look at them. Why wouldn't I be? They are about ME. Why can't I see them?"

"You have to sign a form."

"OK. Give it to me & I'll sign." - As If I haven't signed a zillion just for this procedure. What is one more?

I was then informed that I could only see them if I went to some other department, filled out the proper paperwork & paid for copies .

Copies? I don't want copies, I just wanted to look through MY book. They can keep the copies.

I understand the importance of keeping medical information private (not that I really believe that our info is diligently kept from anyone we are not interested in sharing with. Only those we want to have access seem to have trouble getting it. "Fill out this form in triplicate. Sign 6 times. Initial 37 places. Notarize." - but I exaggerate. Slightly.) BUT isn't it a little extreme to keep a patient's information from said patient? What is in this chart that "they" are afraid I will see?

"Patient appears too happy. Check medications."

"Patient names polyps. Check mental history."

"Patient sings to self. Remind to keep day job."

But more seriously, this lack of patient access to their own chart bugs me due in large part to the medical records I received when I was no longer a dependant & the Air Force was good enough to give my stuffed folder to me. I was surprised both at what was not there as well as what was: POSITIVE results for embarrassing tests I had never had - nor had reason to request. How long had they been in there? Did this other person's tests & results effect the treatment I received at other times? How I was viewed as a young person? At that point in time, it did no good to say "these are not mine."

Now my future plans:
1. Start in the middle of the book instead of the front.
2. Practice photographic memory techniques so I can just flip through quickly.
3. Sneak in a flashlight then hide and read under those toasty blankets.

But, it may already be too late.

"Patient exhibits unnatural desire to view own charts. Check FBI Most Wanted list."

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