Saturday, September 5, 2009


Everyone I know who has spent a great deal of time at the doctor's office for any reason seems to have the same complaints as I do. Doctors don't listen, their solution to everything is drugs and/or surgery, they're dismissive and condescending, they never look at past medical records, they make snap judgments with little or no evidence to support them, and if they're ignorant about your particular condition you can be sure they won't do even the most minimal research to educate themselves. After visiting well over a dozen doctors just for my pelvic issues, I for one am not impressed.

For people with chronic or complex conditions, finding a doctor who listens and can offer substantive help can be terribly difficult and frustrating. For people with unusual problems who find themselves in medically uncharted territory, it is terrifying to know that no one in the world knows what is wrong, and no one much cares to find out.

Whatever your medical situation, I recommend getting copies of your medical records so you can learn all you can and be your own advocate - because no one is going to do that for you. Check for errors and omissions. Also, doctors do put in personal commentary about you, which can range from amusing or complimentary to downright rude. If your doctor is a big jerk, it's best to know now and find a new one.  One of my doctors wrote that I'm stoic. I'll consider that a compliment.

Although you have the legal right to see your medical records, in practice it can be quite difficult to get copies. Often clinics will charge "copying fees" in excess of $1 per page, which really adds up because a lot of pages in your file tend to be junk. I find it's best to ask the doctor directly, rather than deal with the office staff. So far I've been able to get all my records for free, but sometimes it's necessary to be very persistent!

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