You don’t own your data

S Aufrecht

[EDITED to remove personal details] … I decided to try a new new dentist for my followup. Of course the new dentist wants my recent records, so I called the first dentist to get a copy. $45 for the x-rays, whether I want them emailed or printed. "It's the company we use for the x-rays ...," they say. Okay, what about the other records? "What other records?" Um, do I have a chart or something? "The doctor's notes are private." But they're notes about me, right? "He tells you everything when you see him."

WTF? Stanford Hospital and the ambulance company charged me for copies of my records too, but at least those included all of the paramedics' and doctors' notes. I understand that this is part of the outsourcing business model, and it's maybe no different than how wedding photographers operate, but, come to think of it, that leaves a bad taste in my mouth too. Isn't there a way to charge a fair price for services that doesn't leave other people claiming proprietary rights to information about me, especially sensitive, private medical information?

So now I have some fresh questions to ask at the new dentist. Can I walk out of here today with complete copies of my own medical records? What will you charge me for this? Will any entity other than you, the dental practice, retain copies of my records? What is included in those copies? Are you making use of my medical information for any other purposes? If I want a copy of my data later, will you give it to me, and how long will that take and what will you charge me and what format will you provide my data in? How long will you retain a copy of my data? Will you destroy it on my request?