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Medical RecordGovernment agencies have become obsessed with requirements for universally accessible medical records. They will enforce this requirement by law within the next two years. I shudder to think what this will do to individual privacy. Already I have seen the shadow of the computer come between the individual and the physician, interfering with communication as the physician fiddles with screens while ostensibly listening to the patient. Eye to eye contact is becoming a thing of the past. I deplore this, since it detracts immensely from the physician-patient relationship.

Recently I requested a patient’s records, and was sent an E-mail containing 300 pages of notes, largely illegible and mostly irrelevant. It took me half an hour to obtain a few bits of useful information that could have been expressed in one paragraph.

Last week a patient showed me a sheet of paper on which she had produced, on two sides, her entire significant medical history containing all operations, serious illnesses, medications, allergies, names and contact information for all her physicians.

You should do this for yourself, and carry that sheet of paper in your wallet or purse, or put the information in your cell phone. Should an emergency occur, medical personnel would have instant access to pertinent information without having to dial into a central system and wade through piles of useless data.

Government mandates often create duplication and waste, and in this case may well violate individual rights to privacy. I think it is best to keep your own records on your person, in brief and organized fashion, and offer them when you go for evaluation or treatment.

Allan Sosin, M.D.

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