Is Looking at My Medical Records Really Too Much to Ask?

This week, I’m going to be seeing three neurologists including one PANDAS specialist. As you can imagine, I’m very nervous but also excited about the possibility of figuring out what has gone on with me for the past eight years. In order to prepare for the appointments, I’ve been trying to get my hands on my own medical records for awhile—with little success.  Forgive me, because I need to vent…

I don’t understand why it has to be so hard for me to look at some pieces of paper—pieces of paper with my personal information on them. The laws say that I have a right to do so. And as far as I’m concerned, they belong to me. Unfortunately, the administrators I’ve had to get in contact with have disagreed. One even had the nerve to tell me after I had explained my situation: “The records belong to us.”

These people were horrible. They hardly wanted to lift a finger to help me. All they cared about was how long they could get away with taking—as if what they’re dealing with was just another office job—nevermind that a person’s health is at stake.

I was eventually able to get the records from two of the three practices. Unfortunately, the third one has fourteen years of my records that include the time of my symptom onset, and they have been the worst to deal with by far. I’m considering taking an attorney with me when I go back, because some of what they told me sounds illegal. To give you an idea of how little they care, this is how the conversation went:

“I’ve been trying for awhile to get my medical records which were transferred to another practice a few years ago. They were very unhelpful and didn’t tell me they couldn’t release the ones from your practice along with theirs. I’m in a predicament because I have a specialist appointment out-of-town next week, and I need my records by Wednesday…”

“Legally, we have two weeks to get them to you.”

Are you kidding me? This is your response to someone who has just explained the nightmare they’ve been through at another practice? This is what you say to someone who’s just told you that they’re sick enough to need to go out-of-town for a specialist?

That’s wrong and unacceptable,” I said, trying to stay calm. “I’m sick, and I need them next week. Look, you have them sitting right there. Can I not copy them for you and take the copy?”

“No, we can’t do that.”

“I’m very ill, and I need my charts to get a proper diagnosis. Is there any way to expedite the process? I’ll pay extra.”

“No, by law we have up to two weeks to get you your records.”

“I don’t have two weeks. You have two weeks by law, but morally, why won’t you even try to help me get them sooner? Is there nothing you can do?”

“We have up to two weeks to get them to you.”

In a perfect world, I know there wouldn’t be such a rush to get my records, but that’s not how life worked out.  It would be one thing if that administrator had shown even a little bit of concern for my situation and told me she couldn’t do anything, but instead, she was a total jerk.  And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been dealt with in this way. I pity every soul that’s stuck dealing with that woman on a regular basis because they see one of the doctors at that practice.  Who knows?  Maybe she’s crazy enough to surprise me by getting me my records before my appointment on Friday…

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