Saturday, October 19, 2013

There ought to be a law

Earlier this week, I finally managed to receive a copy of my medical file from my former family doctor.  (He retired late last year and I had been trying to secure my file for quite some time.)
The file made very interesting reading indeed.
For instance, the fluctuations in my weight over the years really blew my mind.  And the sudden increases, to me, should have signalled concern on my doctor's part.  The only notation I found -- and it really surprised me because never once in all our years of association did he use the term with me -- was back in 1987 when he indicated that he was treating me for "obesity."
Really?  Me, obese?
That really does speak to how one remains in one's 25-year-old body forever after!  (I was 37 years old back in 1987 and while I will admit to having had additional pounds on me at various times over the years, never would I have used the term obese to describe me.  *Sigh*)
Anyway, that's not the point of this blog.
What really caught my attention was a report from the rheumatologist that I had been sent to back in 2009.  He's the one who suggested I try Cesamet for my hip pain.  That was a bad experiment if ever there was one.  Read about my Cesamet withdrawal here.
In his report to my doctor he wondered if sleep apnea wasn't a contributing factor to my problems and recommended that a sleep study be performed.
That was in 2009.  My doctor never acted on that recommendation.
Yet in 2011, when I raised the question of sleep apnea, I had to fight with him to order a sleep study.
Its findings?
I have upper airway resistance syndrome, which in effect causes obstructive sleep apnea if I sleep on my back.
Now, although I haven't been using my CPAP machine since January of this year (couldn't reconcile the dry mouth issue) I do have to start using it again.  My new family doctor has recommended that I find a way to get used to it again because when I have the tummy tuck, I won't be able to sleep on my side for several weeks.
But, my point is that my doctor did not pursue a sleep study when it was recommended that he do so back in 2009.  And he resisted my request for a study when I raised the topic in 2011.
So there ought to be a law:  When a specialist writes a report to a doctor after having seen a referred patient, that patient should receive a copy of that report.
Automatically.  Without having to ask for it. 
One cannot advocate for one's health if one does not have all the facts.


Bonnie N said...

Since all of my health problems this past year, I learned that many of them are starting to allow you to get your files electronically if you take a flash drive with you. My heart doctor actually sells a bracelet that has a flash drive attached to it. If the doctor hasn't caught up to the 21st century, than I will ask for a copy during my visit. I had a doctor tell me once that I was the most important person when it came to my health care, and to not allow other doctors to blow me off. Once my doctors realized that I was my own best advocate and wouldn't take no for an answer, they started handing over my copies. Some charge a small fee, others will do it for free. If they give me hard copies, I can simply scan them and put them on my flash drive. I also get copies of all my lab work so I can compare them to see how my levels are doing. Be persistent and remember "you are the most important person when it comes to your health care."

Gentle Hugs,

C. Bonnie Fowler said...

Yes Bonnie, I too have been asking for, and receiving, copies of all reports from specialists and results of lab work for some years now. Obviously, I didn't have a copy of the 2009 report from that rheumatologist though. You can be sure I will get copies of everything from my new doctor.
BUT, if patients were automatically copied, we wouldn't have to request them.