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Person buried under a pile of medical history forms

Can I Get It Right the First Time?

I have been seeing different doctors since the beginning of time (since 1963). I have completed hundreds of forms over this time. I recently had to see a doctor that I hadn’t seen in a few months for the same ailment again. Of course, this is the 21st century and the intake person tells you that they will email you the forms. I like this technique because I don’t have to spend 30 minutes in the doctor’s office before my visit. I usually complete the paperwork as I am instructed and feel empowered when I’m able to do this.

The dread of filling out medical history forms

I recently had a doctor’s appointment and my dreams were shattered when I received an email that my paperwork didn’t go through that they would mail the forms that I needed to sign. I was sent a large stack of papers that I couldn’t read. I called and ask to have them re-sent they told me to do my best. They also wanted me to scan them back to them. I did my best, I could. I arrived at my appointment at the scheduled time; of course, they couldn’t read them and had me complete another set in the office.

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What baffled me the most was that I had been to this doctor before, so they had a lot of my medical information; they even told me they pulled me up in their system, so I knew they had just about everything they needed, so I skip stuff like date of birth, address, city where I was born, etc., etc. I assume you just needed updated information on me.

This feels repetitive

As a patient who has had a chronic illness for over 50 years, my medical record is very long and very detailed. I can remember back in the day and even in today’s world carrying my medical records around with me with a case of medications. After all this madness you must see a doctor who asks you the same questions that you just answer on paper. This is enough to drive you crazy.

Medical paperwork can be confusing

Another issue I have come across is trying to understand the forms. I have lost count of how many times I have had to ask what does this mean? I have been completing these forms for years and still get baffled. Can you imagine not understanding English and not understanding completing a form?

I used to think to myself why I must complete this form every time I come into the same doctor’s office for years; just never made sense to me. Do these forms get lost or do you just put them away somewhere never to be seen again by anyone. Think about this for a minute; you complete a form online, by email or snail mail. You get to the doctor’s office and then the nurse needs more information; she is taking notes that no one understands, she translates this to the doctor; how many mistakes can you think can happen at this moment?

Making sure my medical history is accurate

I personally think these forms should be for the doctor to simplify what is going on with you now and in the past. It should be a guide for previous ailments as well as family history, previous surgeries or allergies. After recently getting copies of my medical history, I have found that there was a lot of discrepancies in there because as a patient you don’t remember accurate information from 20 years ago.

The use of Electronic Medical Records (EMR)

I think that doctor offices should be using digital technology to keep patients records up to date and it should be able to cross-reference with other doctors that you have. To me, this would be a best practice because you would only need to update pertinent information such as change of address. This would also give the patient time to complete information accurately and understand it.

I think this practice could save time and help with human error. Just think if you only had to complete one form for every different physician that you encounter. Wouldn’t that be awesome to get the intake process right the first time?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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