May 19, 2021 – THOUGHTS REVEALED: Millions of patients for the first time can easily read their doctors’ case notes, thanks to a new federal mandate that opens up online access to information that’s long been hidden from their view. But for some, the early results have been unsettling, writes POLITICO’s Mohana Ravindranath.

Patients have reported that physicians’ unfiltered assessments include language they find condescending, stigmatizing and cavalier. One person seeking help for pain said the doctor’s notes minimized the suffering and labeled the patient a drug seeker. Another patient who recently had a miscarriage said the notes showed little regard for her emotional state. In other instances, patients said immediate disclosures of abnormal test results have been confusing and alarming. 

“It can be both technically difficult, and difficult emotionally, to read. But it can be really important,” said Erin Gilmer, a health policy lawyer. “The way it’s been for so long is doctors can basically write anything in your records, and you wouldn’t know about it until and unless you did a records release.”


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