Medical records: the plot thickens

In the previous post, I described how I had called my doctor’s office to ask someone to look through my chart to find out when I was last vaccinated for mumps and whether I am immune to mumps; a week later, the nurse told me that there was no information in my electronic records and that my paper records (pre-2010) had been lost.

Last week, a week after I was told my medical records were lost, I called the clinic back and asked for an update on the status of the search for my files.

The nurse I had originally spoken with called me back. She told me that I had, in fact, had a mumps titre, as well as titres for about 8 other things, in 2015, when I’d done the measles titre — i.e. she’d lied earlier when she said there was nothing in my electronic files about titres or mumps; she probably hadn’t checked at all. I then asked her about the paper records. The nurse told me not to worry about them because they’re fine but that they were in storage and “cannot be retrieved.” I asked her what would happen if the doctor needed something from those years, and she said that my doctor had everything she needs in my electronic files — again, obviously false. Then I asked if I could see my paper files for myself to confirm that they do indeed exist. Again, the nurse told me that the files “cannot be retrieved.” Long story short, I asked to be put in touch with someone else whose job it is to retrieve old medical files, and she said that it can’t be done and/or she doesn’t even know who to ask. In other words, unadulterated bullshit, because the files either exist and can be retrieved or do not exist, and I also have a legal right to see my own medical records.

Some friends recommended that I contact the clinic’s office manager to lodge a complaint. I did; the office manager was horrified to hear how the nurse had handled the situation and apologized on behalf of the clinic. She spontaneously arranged for a patient advocate to have all my paper records photocopied and mailed to me (!), and gave me both her and the patient advocate’s direct phone numbers and email addresses. The office manager also told me that she’d have a conversation with the nurse and get back to me about it soon. I was very pleased that she took my complaint seriously because this sort of thing erodes trust in the medical profession and I don’t want this kind of crap to happen to other people.

I suspect that this is not the first instance of bad behaviour from this nurse. I hope it’s the last.

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