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Doctor's Office Won't Give Me My Numbers

   
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QUESTION

When I have my TSH tested, the office staff at my doctor call and tell me "your results are normal." When I ask for the specific numbers, sometimes they've said, "oh, all you need to know is that everything is fine," or "the doctor will need to discuss those with you." When I ask the doctor, I often hear the same response, or "why would you want to know that?" Why is it so difficult to get them to tell me the specifics, and is there something I can do about it? -- Logan

DR. MARIE SAVARD ANSWERS

Office staff and even many doctors feel threatened by patients that seem to know a lot about their health conditions - perhaps even more than they themselves know about the condition or test. I have developed a system that helps people get exactly what you want and need - the original copies of your medical records and test results.

I describe it in my book, How To Save Your Own Life. At your next office visit, tell you doctor and the office staff that you would like to assume more responsibility for your health information and will be asking for copies of all test results, consultation reports and hospital discharge summaries. I find it better not to let on that you know so much about your condition or that you are checking up on them, but rather that it just makes sense that you keep copies of all your medical records for future reference. Once you have the results in hand, you can then ask more specific questions about the results.

Give them a self-addressed stamped envelope to remind them of your request. I have developed a sticker for your doctor's chart to help remind your doctor and office staff that you would like this information. If they question your intention, remind them that your health information is important and it may not be available to you if you travel or see another doctor or specialist (it usually isn't) and that legally and ethically you are entitled to copies of all your information. You can download a sample letter requesting your information from your doctor at my web site at www.drsavard.com. The letter also explains exactly why you want the information. Finally, as I say in my book, be polite to the staff at first. As the saying goes, "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar". (August, 2002)

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Marie Savard, M.D. is an internationally known internist and women’s health expert, author and champion for patient rights and responsibilities. She is the founder of The Savard System and author of two highly acclaimed books, How to Save Your Own Life: The Savard System for Managing and Controlling Your Healthcare and The Savard Health Record: a six-step system for managing your health care. For more information from Dr. Savard, read: For more information on Marie Savard's books, The Savard Health Record: A Six Step System for Managing Your Healthcare, and How to Save Your Own Life: Dr. Savard's Nine Steps to Getting the Healthcare You Really Need, see http://www.thyroid-info.com/savard.htm.

Dr. Marie Savard's website is located at www.drsavard.com.

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