Medical Records are forever.

Sort of.  "Forever" is a really long time, ditto for "never".   I find I’m more likely to have said "I’ll never do…" than to say "I will _____forever", but it’s a similar order of magnitude: a really long time.  For instance,  when I left home to go to school, I was never coming back to Kennett.  When I was in veterinary school, I was never going to Arkansas.  So, my first job out of school was in Pocahontas, Arkansas and after a year and half there, I came home to Kennett. I’d been gone eight years, but…

Once upon a time, it seemed like I had plenty of storage space and I would keep every patient’s medical record forever.  If there were ever to be a question about that patient’s medical care, I would have the documents.  Twenty-seven years later I find myself getting a little short on space.  I also find that I am really not having much occasion to examine the records of patients who have been deceased for twenty years.  So, much as it pains me to get rid of anything (you should see my basement… no, you shouldn’t) I’m doing some house-cleaning.  The Cotton Boll Sheltered Workshop is getting into paper recycling and they are offering "secure shredding", so those ancient medical records will remain confidential until they go to that great pulp mill in the sky.

We are still keeping records for seven years after the demise of a patient, including lab tests and X-rays.   That will still take up enough space to make me think wistfully about going paperless.  Then I have a computer glitch and think, "Nope, glad I’ve got the paper records for back-up."  Of course, if I had a fire, I’d be glad I had the off-premise back-up of the computer records.  Suspenders and a belt, that’s me.  It could be the Boy Scout in me: "Be prepared."  Or it could be the Luddite in me that just can’t fully trust the machine.  Redundancy feels good to us geezers. I am giving you a number, but I’m not taking away your name.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *