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Check your doctor’s notes: Doing so could help save you

All doctors keep notes on their patients. The notes they keep may include diagnostic findings, test results and more.

As a patient, it is always smart to look at those notes and to make sure you understand what the findings state. Simply reviewing test results, and getting a second opinion, may help you save your life.

Your patient summary doesn’t have all of the details

A patient summary does contain many pieces of information that you may need to use, such as a summary of your office visit, a list of your medications and even a reminder to schedule your next appointment. What it won’t have is the detailed information that your doctor keeps in their own records.

Your doctor’s records contain your full medical history. Your doctor’s notes will also have their opinion written down as well. It’s a good idea to review these full notes, because you may be able to find out more about what your doctor thinks is wrong or if they really understood the complaint that you made that brought them into the office.

Does looking at the doctor’s notes matter?

According to one study performed, looking at your doctor’s notes can be extremely helpful to patients. The majority of patients felt like they were better informed and more in control when they were able to access that information and make decisions understanding what their doctors’ thoughts were. However, in some cases, patients did feel offended, worried or another way about the doctor’s recorded findings.

Should you have access to doctors’ notes?

Good recordkeeping matters and can help prevent medical errors and malpractice. As a patient, it’s a good idea to access those notes when you can, so that you can make adjustments or corrections. For example, if you came in complaining of a headache, you could correct the doctor on suggesting that you had a migraine or tension headache when no tests were done to determine the exact type. This kind of accuracy may not seem important, but it could play a role in getting the right diagnoses down the road if your symptoms persist.