More and more doctors are transferring their records to an electronic format. One electronic medical records software, OpenNotes, allows patients to view their medical records online as well. Does having this information mean better care for a patient?
The New York Times published an article about one patient, Steven Keating, who benefited from the ability of seeing his medical records. In fact, because of this, he was able to push his doctors to perform an MRI of his brain, which revealed a brain tumor the size of a tennis ball.
In other cases, having this unfiltered information may create unnecessary concern and anxiety. For example, if one of your blood levels isn’t within the “normal range,” what does this mean? Most people would probably run to their computer and search “abnormal blood level for _________” and get countless different possible diagnoses….most of them serious, and probably not related to your “abnormal” blood levels. Results of imaging studies, such as x-rays and MRIs may also appear to be serious when they are actually only reflecting the results of age and normal wear and tear.
Just having raw data and unfiltered notes is not generally useful and can be harmful. If you are going to get your notes, make sure to discuss your concerns regarding what you read with your physician.