Should Patients Have Access to Their Electronic Medical Records?

The medical community is split on the issue

8 June 2015

A Ph.D. student at the MIT Media Lab “pushed and prodded” to collect an estimated 70 gigabytes of his own patient data, according to an article in The New York Times. After studying them, he was able to alert doctors when he began to have symptoms of a cancerous brain tumor, since removed. While being more informed may help patients detect early signs of a disease, the article notes that the student had a big advantage over most. Not only did he know what to request, but he also understood how to analyze the data, which included genetic sequencing, medical images, and 300 pages of clinical documents.

Although more hospitals are starting to share electronic medical records with their patients, many hesitate. They are concerned that physicians will be overwhelmed with questions and unnecessary visits. Moreover, one-fifth of doctors who know that patients will read their notes say they have changed the way they write about certain conditions, which could mean important details are omitted. 

Do you think patients should have the right to see all their electronic medical records, or is it better to leave them in the hands of their doctors?

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