Should patients own their medical records?

Personal health records have been in the news lately, with the focus on how inaccurate they can be.

Should patients have complete access to medical records at their physician’s office or hospital?

Primary care doctor Rob Lamberts offers some thoughts on the subject. There are some parts of the record that patients shouldn’t read. “What if someone comes into the office with a child and I have some suspicions about the family situation?” he writes. “I certainly don’t want the patients having access to this.”

A recent NEJM article suggested two paths where PHRs could gain more prominence. The first would be the web-based models like Google Health or Microsoft HealthVault. The second is an extension of current electronic medical record systems used by doctors, offering limited access to patient’s charts. Diagnoses, lab results and diagnostic tests, for instance. It is this last option that will probably take hold.

So, in the end, should patients have complete access? Probably not. A lot of the medical chart is simply not relevant to a patient’s well-being.

“Somehow there needs to be a way to parse out what is important and what is not,” Dr. Rob concludes.

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