by Michael Coren, MESc
Patients, in theory, can access their own medical records. Yet a thicket of fees, institutional fear, and bureaucracy still stand between most patients and their medical charts.
But a new project called OpenNotes suggests there is much to gain and little to fear by sharing medical records with patients as part of treatment. A few medical centers–Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, rural Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Health System and Seattle’s Harborview–recently completed the first trial of OpenNotes in which 14,000 patients were given immediate access to electronic notes by their doctors and nurses. The results, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and the Journal of Hospital Medicine, defy decades of doctors’ concerns about hours of busy work, broaching sensitive topics and creating confusion among patients.
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