At the end of every doctor’s appointment, patients are generally given a summary of their visit and/or instructions to access a patient portal containing the same information. The information gleaned from these sources, while valuable, is usually very basic, consisting of test results, a diagnosis and after-care instructions. Other vital information can be found in the clinical notes portion of a patient’s record. The problem? These are rarely shared with patients unless arrangements have been made.
Clinical notes contain all the information your doctor enters into your medical record during and after your visit, including the reasons for your visit, your words, your doctor’s thoughts and billing codes. Your doctor will rarely voluntarily give you access to their full notes. You must ask to see them, and it is definitely well worth the effort to do so. A review of your doctor’s notes could teach you more about your condition or help you uncover mistakes and omissions in your medical record. Find out what other treasures lurk in your clinical notes below.
Discover the Number-One Reason Why You Should Read Your Doctor’s Notes Below!
You May Learn Something
Doctor’s visits are short, lasting an average of 17.5 minutes. A lot has to happen in that time, including a consultation, exam, review of findings and after-care and/or prescription instructions. There simply isn’t enough time to talk about every little detail of your health. For this reason, your doctor may not tell you all the things they put in their notes, and some of them could be important and fixable, such as an iron deficiency.
Although you might not expect it, doctors do like to sugarcoat things. A 2016 study showed that only 5% of patients with advanced, terminal cancer had a complete understanding of their illness and life expectancy. For the most part, doctors don’t want the situation to appear hopeless and, therefore, try to protect patients from the truth. In some cases, it all comes down to poor communication.
You May Find an Omission/Mistake
Misunderstandings and miscommunications are a fact of life. When a communication breakdown occurs in the doctor’s office, however, the results can be detrimental to your health. If your doctor doesn’t hear you mention a certain symptom, for example, they may reach a different conclusion than they would have if they had complete information regarding all your symptoms. Problems can also occur if an allergy or another medication you are using gets left out.
Reading your doctor’s notes consistently can help you find omissions and mistakes, which will help you clarify any misunderstandings you may have with your physician. You may also gain a better understanding of what your doctor’s methods are.
Above All, You Will Feel in Control
Perhaps the most important reason to read your doctor’s notes is for the amount of control it gives you over your health care. The vast majority of patients who had access to their doctor’s notes felt more in control of their care, according to a 2012 study. They also adhered more closely to the doctor’s instructions and medication schedules than those who did not have access to the notes.
Clinical notes contain vital details that are not found anywhere else in your health record. Therefore, it’s important that you read them regularly. Doing so may help you learn more about your condition and uncover false information or inconsistencies in the reporting. It will also make you feel in control of your health and care.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!
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