Patients want access to doctor's notes

Harper, Warren & Harris | PR-USA.Net | May 14, 2012

Medical professionals today often act as the gatekeepers to patients' medical information and its interpretation. But, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School wanted to challenge the asymmetric management of patient medical information between doctors and patients by conducting a survey on patient and doctor attitudes towards open notes. Although patients have the legal right to doctors' notes and medical professionals want patients to be involved in their own health care, regular access to doctors' notes is not widespread.

The control of patients' records by doctors is rooted in the doctors' medical expertise and ability to interpret information such as test results, but that tradition can also mask information helpful to patients. Doctors in opposition to greater note transparency express concerns that their interpretation of patients' health and medical conditions may confuse patients and may trigger more patient questions. Doctors also worry that the misinterpretation of notes by patients may lead to potential medical negligence claims.

Among medical facilities with open notes policies, like the University of Texas, many of these concerns have not emerged. According to Time: Healthland, open notes have not created more questions from patients but have helped patients answer their own questions, saving doctors time. The greater transparency has not caused an increase in malpractice claims, and insurance premiums have dropped since patient records at the University of Texas became digital.

Open notes have even served as a motivational tool for patients because reading a record of their health helps patients make a change in behavior...