Home > Uncategorized > Retrieving medical data from a foggy brain

Retrieving medical data from a foggy brain

October 6, 2011

I may not be at my sharpest, mentally, right now. It’s been 36 hours since I’ve had anything but water, coffee or tea, and I’ve had minimal sleep for the last two days, so I’m a bit hungry and not a little grumpy. Worse, I am filling out a form. I hate filling out forms.

The form asks lots of nosy medical questions, like; “HIV positive” and “Surgical history” and what medications and vitamins I take and whether I’ve ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine. All so they can shove a camera down my throat and maybe grab a little piece of esophagus for someone to look at.

Yeah – there’s some antibiotic I’m allergic to, but I don’t remember which one. Somethingacillin, I think. Is that close enough?

I recognize that maintaining medical databases is a non-trivial problem, but I have to fill out this information every damn time I walk into a new doctor’s office. In my case, that’s a lot of times. And news flash; my memory isn’t that good. Of course Amazon knows what movies I looked at five years ago, even if I didn’t buy them, but here I sit, filling out tiny squares in ball-point pen on a piece of pink paper.

Where’s all that database technology I keep hearing about? Buried under a mountain of insurance-company forms, probably. Do they have better records in countries with single-payer insurance? Anyone?


  • Yes, I am transcribing the contents of this form to EverNote.  Hope the information is right.  And even so, it isn’t like I could just print out my Notes and give them to the next doctor: they’ll want it on their pastel paper in their tiny squares.
  • This visit was both upper gastric endoscopy and colonoscopy.  Doctor assured me he’d use a different camera for esophagus than for colon.  Must be a standard joke for him.
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 6, 2011 at 09:19 | #1

    I know where you are coming from. My problem with these forms are the boxes for when an operation or hospital stay occurred. My goodness I’m 76 years old –lucky I can remember my kid’s birthdays. Like you I have filled out these wretched things for years and I resent the repetition. I realize all the doctors I have seen can’t keep all this information on electronic file but one should be able to. Either that or at least do away with the nonessential crap so it takes less memory. Like who cares if I had my tonsils out in 1954!

  2. dof
    October 6, 2011 at 11:00 | #2

    lucky I can remember my kid’s birthdays.

    That’s an important point! What’s the chance that the information in my brain is likely to be accurate enough to be medically useful?

  3. Les
    October 6, 2011 at 11:48 | #3

    There have been a number of initiatives for a national medical registry system over the years, but they all come down to it being a big hassle and expensive to implement. The folks at the APM Marketplace blog have an article from this past April about another attempt to start one and why it hasn’t already happened:

    Ashish Jha is a professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard’s School of Public Health. He says it comes down to money and software. There is a huge cost and huge hassle for people in medical offices to get all these records into electronic form. And if they do, it’s generally the health insurance companies that benefit from any savings that are incurred. Would you be willing to work a lot harder and change how you’re doing things if the primary beneficiary is a health insurance company?

    There’s also a lack of agreement on how all this information should be handled. How can you make everybody agree on one system? That’s one of the reasons that Jha sees a really comprehensive electronic medical records system being well over 10 years away.

    Not to mention a host of privacy questions.

  4. Chas, PE SE
    October 6, 2011 at 17:06 | #4

    Feel Better, DOF

    I’ve had cameras rammed up/down both ends, not at the same time, luckily. My standard joke is to ask the guy doing the colonscopy to do a tonsilectomy at the same time, making medical history.

  5. dof
    October 6, 2011 at 20:58 | #5

    Les – I understand what a huge deal it is. It can probably never happene in our private-insuranc driven systtm.
    Thanks Chas. Today was both ends. They took biopsies but I’m still abi t foggy so probably won’t worry until later.

  6. Chas, PE SE
    October 7, 2011 at 09:47 | #6

    “both ends” eh? Did they meet in the middle? You could’ve staged a little Golden Spike ceremony in your dudonium.

  7. November 3, 2011 at 13:16 | #7

    Hi DOF,
    Sorry to bring up another painful subject…but here goes. I saw the photo you submitted under “I passed a kidney stone.” Since I just passed its twin brother, I wondered if you ever learned what the “grape shot” component was made of? And, if you would care to share, What you are doing to avoid the next attack? I would be in your debt!
    Thanks, jay kay

  8. dof
    November 3, 2011 at 16:01 | #8

    Hello Jay Sorry I never did find out what that “grape shot” component was made of. I didn’t catch the name of the lab they sent it to, and my medical records got zeroed when my provider was bought by somebody… very much ties into the subject of this post.

    It was weird to see a two-component kidney stone. Calcium oxalate and…? At the time I searched for kidney stone images and never found one like that.

    Even sorrier to hear you had to suffer through it! Mercy that was awful. If you find out what yours was made of please let us know.

    Yes I’m glad to share what I do to avoid attacks, which mostly amounts to keeping a 1-litre bottle of water at my desk and drinking it all each day. Most kidney stones are a sign of dehydration, but can also be caused by urinary-tract infection and rarely, by a genetic defect. Some herbal teas can cause them. One upside to my recent troubles is that I have been found not to be carrying any stones just now. Hope they never recur because I have lost count of how many I have passed in my life or how many total days of hospitalization they have caused.

    Nalgene makes a nice BPA-free wide-mouth water bottle that I keep at my desk. I fill it up in the morning and pour its contents into a cup to drink. Room temp water is easier to chug than iced.

Comments are closed.