Patients and nursing home residents have a legal right to obtain copies of most portions of their medical records. Yet at least some nursing homes are very reluctant to give competent residents their information. My question is: Why?
The benefits of providing such access to residents (and their families) include:
- Gaining resident (and family's) feedback as to errors in the record
- Enabling resident (and family) to share that information with others for second opinions and advice
- Increasing trust between resident and nursing home staff
- Respecting resident's wishes
- Providing a greater transparency
- Complying with Federal regulations.
For example, some nursing homes create policies that residents must follow to gain access to their medical records, such as signing a paper, but they do not make such policies readily known to residents and staff. Instead, staff is told to say things to the resident such as: "You need a doctor to see your chart so s/he can review the with you" instead of disclosing that the resident could simply sign a piece of paper and obtain their records for a few cents a page (assuming the staff person even knows about the paper-signing process).
Now I'm not talking about obtaining a psychotherapy session note, which may not be appropriate for certain residents to see, but rather something like obtaining a copy of a radiology report or medication orders.
Why does this happen? Is there something to hide? Is it an issue of power and control? What should be done about this?