Medical records have been used to keep track of patient health and problems for many years, but they are often incomplete, illegible, hard to access, inaccurate, and sometimes even grossly wrong. Even with the development and application of Electronic Medical Records, such problems are not completely solved.
There are also non-technical problems associated with medical records. For example, who owns the records? Who should keep the records and maintain them? Who should be allowed access to them? Although the newly enacted HIPAA regulations endorse the patient's guarantee of access to their own medical records and clarify record holders' responsibilities to maintain the confidentiality of records, we cannot say these problems no longer exist.
This assignment is very simple and relatively non-technical. Obtain as complete a copy of your own medical record as possible, from whatever institutions have provided you routine, emergency or preventive health care, and document the procedures you need to follow in order to do this, and the difficulties you encounter. Please begin on this assignment immediately, because even in the best of circumstances, a week may be too little time to accomplish this task. For privacy reasons, we obviously don't want you to turn in a copy of your own medical record. What you should turn in instead is the above-mentioned documentation on what you did to get the records, what problems you had, and any surprises that you had on seeing them. Feel free to include your insights and reflections, but we don't expect your write-up to be more than about a page. (If you have been remarkably healthy and don't have any medical records, try to obtain records for a close relative, with their permission and cooperation.)