Medical Records Tip for Your Rheumatoid Arthritis History: Read the Doctors’ notes

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Spying Gecko

It’s your Rheumatoid Arthritis history

As much as you wish you did not, you own your RA. No one wants the fatigue and pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis. However, by default, you are the manager of your Rheumatoid Arthritis treatment.

Last time, we peeked into the doctors’ notes of an RA’er. In addition to the hysterical diagnosis stuff, we noticed that Kim had ultrasound results which had either been misinterpreted or ignored. Those ultrasounds had revealed the early damage of Rheumatoid Arthritis and indicated that she should have been treated much earlier.

Have you read the medical records from your Rheumatoid Arthritis specialist?

Last year, another RA’er gave me this advice: get copies of all of the doctor’s notes. Make sure that you understand what is being written about you. Make sure that everything is correct.

Here’s why I did not do it at that point:

  • While I thought the advice sounded good, I was worried about offending the doctor / staff. Not a good sign.
  • And I worried about the cost of obtaining the copies. There were signs on the office walls warning of the cost of records. More bad signs.
  • I was worried about what I’d read. That old ostrich problem rearing its head.

A lesson learned about Rheumatoid Arthritis management

A few months ago, I made an appointment with a new doctor. Of course, they asked me to bring my records. So, I finally went through the long process of obtaining them.

I gathered up records from every doctor I had seen about anything related to my Rheumatoid Arthritis, including the podiatrist and the ophthalmologist… Since I was careful to only ask for the “doctor’s notes,” it did not cost me too much money. But it did take time.

From the beginning, I have kept copies of all of my lab reports. I have always recommended this, since so much can be learned from them. This is very easy if you request a copy from the lab each time you go.

Juicy tidbits in my RA history

So, what was in the doctors’ notes? A couple of highlights: I read that I am “seronegative.” Hmm? With my high Rheumatoid factor and anti-CCP lab results? How’s that possible?

Among the various pages were also reports that I “deny” rashes, fatigue, stiffness, and photosensitivity. Of course, I remember complaining of all of those symptoms. It would be hard to forget.

 And of course, if you read the notes of other doctors in my file, you’d read that those were my chief complaints, after pain.

Did it matter?

When I presented my carefully prepared medical records to the new doctor, they declined to accept them. The doctor did not even peek.  However, from now on, I will. Like I said, it’s my RA to manage.

Postblog: the sooner you start, the better. If you ask for copies as you go, it probably won’t cost you anything. And if there’s a problem, you’ll know right away.

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 at 9:49 am and is filed under RA Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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