Wasting time for what is right (long post,sorry)

  1. I am sorry up front if this gets long.
    Quick history here. I am an RN as well as a patient of a GI doc. Well, he has been treating me for almost 3 yrs and I am worse now than I was when I started "treatment". I have Ulcerative Colitis, bad but not life threatning (yet). So, after some complications from my last round of meds I developed an actual life threatning complication (pancreatitis w/ some strange liver involvement and splenomegaly).So, I had been c/o severe abdominal pain for over aweek, and this guy just wanted to put me on steroids. Thank g-d I didn't (can you imagine trying to mask the pain of pancreatitis...!?!) Anyhow, if he had LISTENED to my symptoms in th first place it would have spare me 2 ER visits and a helluva medical bill(s). By the way he just never saw me in his office or ran any labs (which in retrospect I should have demanded) for more than one year.
    I am NOT suing or anything, I just had it w/ him and am going for a second opinion. I asked for a copy or fax of my comnplete file. The office faxed me a release blah, blah...They then faxed me practically NADA. A couple of labs from 3 yrs ago, no progress notes, no records of any treatment, history or medications. I call back and the office manager says "We don't release progress notes, those belong to the doctor." Well, I just said that doesn't sound right to me and I'd call back. O.K, I did my homework. I am in California where according to the Cal Medial Board, I have a LEGAL right to have a copy of my complete record within 15 days of asking in writing(the consent does this). If they don't comply, the board will make them give them over. I even sent a fax offering to pay for copy fees.
    What should I do next? I don't want to lose my cool, but I want my copy so I can get on with it. What do you think?
    So sorry this was so long!!!
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  2. 25 Comments

  3. by   suzannasue
    sharann,
    First of all...big hug of support and caring to ya...
    Seems to me that your records are indeed YOUR records...can you go online and get a copy of the California law that would support your request??? Then fax that to them...or get a copy of the Freedom of Information Act...
    Just speaking from past experience with docs, I have never personally obtained a copy of my records,however,once I had gotten the consulting MD's appointment, I have had him/her request the file and there has been no problem.
    Sometimes MD's become insulted when we,as patients,seek second opinions. But sharann,as consumers,we must be vigilant and become our own advocate for health care. Had you taken the steroids and the pain of pancreatitis been masked,you could have died.
    Sorry I do not have the savvy to quote laws regarding this matter, but as a nurse and a fellow human being, I can only encourage you to take care of yourself and seek the help that you need. Get in touch with the Calif Med Board and ask for their help in this matter.
    Take care.
  4. by   thisnurse
    im so sorry for what you are going thru. i just went thru kind of the same thing. doctors AND nurses who dont listen. its so damn frustrating.
    i would call the office and tell them i have filled out the proper forms and i am coming in to get my medical records. then just go and get them. dont even play the mail game.
    by all means get another GI.
    i went thru 6 docs and 4 ER visits before my toes went completely black and they discovered i had aortic stenosis. nice.
    good luck. stay determined....its the ONLY way you will get proper care.
  5. by   shay
    Here's what I'd do:

    1. Write a politely nasty letter demanding your medical records, with a copy of the Calif. law attached and the pertinent parts highlighted.

    2. Included in said letter, I would specifically state that if they did not comply with the law, I would be 'forced to persue legal action.' That sentence alone scares the pants off most people who are blocking you and they'll do what you want. Trust me. I know from experience.

    3. Send the letter via certified mail so that they are forced to acknowledge its' arrival and existence, and make sure you get the confirmation of their receipt of the letter in writing (this is one of the options you can pick when sending certified mail).

    4. Make sure you include a deadline for compliance in the letter. The law states 15 days, so say in the letter, 'if my complete records are not released by xx date.....' so that they can't stall. State that you will be coming to their office IN PERSON to collect your records on xx date, 'in accordance with California law.'

    5. You may want to consider getting the letter notarized and witnessed. I know it sounds over the top, but believe me....the more serious you appear, the faster your results will be.

    6. Be prepared to follow through with the 'seek legal action' threat. You never know, and you must always be prepared to make good on whatever you say you'll do.

    7. KEEP SEVERAL COPIES OF THE LETTER AND CERTIFIED MAIL RECEIPT.

    8. Get a new doc. And be prepared to seek new employment as well, as you stated you work for this guy.

    Good luck. Hope you feel better soon and get some good, thorough treatment.
    Last edit by shay on Jun 30, '02
  6. by   fiestynurse
    Have an attorney write a letter requesting the medical records and if need be get a subpoena. The doctor obviously wrote something in his progress notes that he doesn't feel comfortable having you see. You could change doctors and have that doctor request a copy of your chart also. See what he gets sent.

    Good Luck!
  7. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I have no further wisdom to add beyond what I saw above. I just want to add my well wishes and heartfelt support. I am so sorry for what you are going through! Big cyber-hug for you,
    ((((((((((((Shar))))))))))))) ...best of luck.
  8. by   micro
    #1 above.......
    be healthy........
  9. by   sharann
    Thanks to you all and hugs back. I feel silly going through all this trouble just to get my darn own records! Oh well. I will print the California law as suggested along with a copy of my letter (my second letter).
  10. by   nursegoodguy
    Originally posted by shay
    Here's what I'd do:

    1. Write a politely nasty letter demanding your medical records, with a copy of the Calif. law attached and the pertinent parts highlighted.

    2. Included in said letter, I would specifically state that if they did not comply with the law, I would be 'forced to persue legal action.' That sentence alone scares the pants off most people who are blocking you and they'll do what you want. Trust me. I know from experience.

    3. Send the letter via certified mail so that they are forced to acknowledge its' arrival and existence, and make sure you get the confirmation of their receipt of the letter in writing (this is one of the options you can pick when sending certified mail).

    4. Make sure you include a deadline for compliance in the letter. The law states 15 days, so say in the letter, 'if my complete records are not released by xx date.....' so that they can't stall. State that you will be coming to their office IN PERSON to collect your records on xx date, 'in accordance with California law.'

    5. You may want to consider getting the letter notarized and witnessed. I know it sounds over the top, but believe me....the more serious you appear, the faster your results will be.

    6. Be prepared to follow through with the 'seek legal action' threat. You never know, and you must always be prepared to make good on whatever you say you'll do.

    7. KEEP SEVERAL COPIES OF THE LETTER AND CERTIFIED MAIL RECEIPT.

    8. Get a new doc. And be prepared to seek new employment as well, as you stated you work for this guy.

    Good luck. Hope you feel better soon and get some good, thorough treatment.

    Wow! This was so good it deserved to be repeated!
  11. by   CATHYW
    I agree with nursegoodguy. Of course, if this guy was as "good" as you said, he might not have any progress notes to send!

    BTW, take good care of yourself-keep looking until you find the right doc to treat you.
  12. by   kids
    DITTO
    What shay said and nursegoodguy repeated.

    {HUG}
  13. by   mattsmom81
    Sharann, (((HUGS))) to ya...chronic conditions such as yours are a real challenge to live with..... hope ya find a good GI doc (or a good internist with an interest in GI) ....I had a friend cut corners with GI problems and ended up with mucho complications which played a role in her death at a young age.

    Your health is WAY too important to trust to a shoddy doc like this!. I hope you consider reporting him to the medical board for so he gets a reprimand, at least.

    I have never heard that before...'progress notes are the docs property'.....whats up with that? Something fishy there...
  14. by   zudy
    Sharann, everyone has said it much better than I could, but know that we care!! Sorry you are having such a rough time hope you find a great and caring doc that cares!

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