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Howard's Notebook


Medical records and health care

  Russ went out about a week ago to get his state ID.  We been here for about three months and this is only about the second time he has even been out of the apartment.
  Both times he gets out he comes back with a cold.  Both times he passes them on to me.  So I have had a head cold for the last few days.

  What in the hell has been going on with the flu?  Remember all the media hype and news about the flu.  I never hear anyone even mention it now.

  Here it is March 6th and I have not seen my new insurance primary care doctor yet.  I have not even made an appointment.  At this point I am not sure if I will have the  $10.00 office fee to see the doctor. 
  I do not have any medical records to give the doctor.  I need to get the information from Baptist Hospital in Miami.  I see that federal law spells out what hospitals can charge for giving you medical records.  There is a $1.00 search fee for each year requested, $1.00 per page for paper records, $2.00 per page for non-paper records, plus sales tax and actual postage. For doctors they can charge $1.00 per page for the first 25 pages and .25 cents for any page after that.  Hell, I am not sure I can afford to get my old medical records.
  I do think it is a good idea that there is a federal standard fee. If each hospital could just decide on their own it would be like the wild wild west. 
  If we get the health care bill that the Democrats want then at some point all medical records will be on computers in a standard format and you can just go to a hospital or doctor and give them permission to pull up your data. It will save a lot of money and it will save a lot of lives. 
  Often someone will come into a hospital in the middle of the night on a weekend with chest pains or a heart attack or something and they will say had a test done or an EKG done at such and such a doctor’s office and there is no way for the hospital to get access to that data.  Now if it is a hospital the ER can call the other hospital and request them to FAX the information to you.  But that presents problems.  Someone at the other hospital has to get access to the medical records department, has to find the chart and then has to make sure the other hospital has permission to get it and then FAX it to them.
  I worked for years at a small hospital.  I worked the night and midnight shift so from time to time a hospital would call our hospital and request a medical record on a patient.  At 0300 we had no hospital nursing supervisor on duty (they went home at 0100).  So the ER RN would be acting supervisor.  If the ER was not busy she could go and find the medical record and FAX it.  If the ER was busy she would ask me if I would be willing to go and get the medical record.  I would have to go to the Medical Records department and look up the patient, then find the file and take it to the ER RN.  Sometimes I would make copies and FAX it to the other hospital.
  If we get a national health care problems and costs like this will be fixed.  Of course they are not going to be fixed on the first day.  It will take time.
  That is why we need to get started now.

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