slnash (slnash) wrote in bad_service,

Medical Records

My family used the same family practice doctor for years (we liked the doctor, the location was convenient, etc . . .). My youngest sister was getting ready to go into the 7th grade and needed to get certain shots required by the school/state. So my Mom called the doctor, found out the doctor had moved across town (20+ minute drive), but still made an appointment. My Mom took my sister to the doctor’s, she got her shots, etc . . . The next day, my Mom searched through the list of family practice doctors our health insurance covered, found one closer to my mom’s office who was accepting new patients, and set everything up to have our families records transferred from our normal doctor to the new one. (Our family rarely goes to the doctor and convenience was a deciding factor in switching doctors.)

Exactly one week later, we find out through the news that our original family practice doctor had died from a brain aneurysm while on vacation. (This was sad – she was a great doctor, a nice woman, was with her two children when it happened, and there were no symptoms/warning signs.) A few months go by and my mother needs to get my youngest sister’s shot records for summer camp - none of us have been to the doctor within this timeframe. The school, which has a copy, has limited summer hours and won’t mail the records to my mom – instead she’ll have to pick them up. Since both my parents work in a different town than where we lived (and have a 45 minute commute to and from work), my mom figures she’ll just get a copy from our new doctor’s office since they’re next to her office – otherwise she’ll miss at least half a day from work.

My mom calls the new doctor. They never received our medical records from our old family practice doctor (the one who had died). My Mom calls the old family practice doctor’s office . . . disconnected (no surprise there). My Mom calls our health insurance. The health insurance tells my Mom that Dr. X bought our families medical records from our old doctor’s practice after she died. My Mom figures that in the confusion taking place from the old doctor’s death, the records were never transferred to the new doctor. No worries – my Mom will just call Dr. X, explain the situation, and request they transfer them to new doctor. Nope. Dr. X’s staff says they will transfer them . . . . for a fee of five cents a page . . . . for all 5 of us in the family . . . for the past 12 or so years. My Mom explains the situation again . . . . old doc supposed to transfer to new doc (for no charge), but the old doc died, old doc’s office got crazy, our records were sold without permission/cause/whatever. Dr. X’s staff said our records belong to them until my mom pays to have them transferred.

Since Dr. X was never supposed to have our records, we never gave permission to have our records given to Dr. X, we were never even notified about/by Dr. X, and now my mom feels like they’re holding the records hostage, she calls our health insurance to complain. Health insurance says they have no control over individual doctor’s policies, although they do see that our records were supposed to have been transferred to New Doc, which is why we never received anything notifying us of Dr. X’s takeover of the records . . . because Dr. X wasn’t supposed to have them – they were supposed to be transferred to new doc. Health insurance tells Mom that they notified Dr. X that New Doc was supposed to have our records, but Dr. X obviously didn’t transfer them or contact us.

Mom calls New Doc to see if they can call Dr. X to get records. New Doc tries, says Dr. X wants payment. New Doc points mom in the direction of her rights, under statute, to get medical records for reasonable fees, etc . . . (Apparently New Doc doesn’t like Dr. X either.)

Mom calls Dr. X and asks to purchase a copy just of my youngest sister’s shot records. Dr. X says the copies will be ready in two weeks . . . . for two pages. My mom is pissed. She shows up at Dr. X’s office one or two days later and requests copy of youngest sister’s shot records. Dr. X says my youngest sister has to be there to sign for them. My mom tells Dr. X my youngest sister is a minor and cannot sign for them. Dr. X says youngest sister must sign. My mom makes Dr. X read my sister’s birth date aloud. Dr. X caves and prints the 2 pages off a computer. Mom pays with a quarter and tells them to keep the change.

We all wonder why Dr. X is such an ass. And why it would take up to two weeks for a copy of two pages of information that is stored in a computer database. (If the records had been on charts in a locked warehouse somewhere then okay . . . . but . . . they weren’t.)

Moral: Dr. X policies and staff just plain out suck.
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