Almost half of patients withhold sensitive medical information

The first real-world trial of patient-controlled access to electronic medical records found that 49 percent of patients chose to hold back sensitive medical information from their health care professionals.

Researchers from Clemson University, the Regenstrief Institute, Indiana University School of Medicine and Eskenazi Health worked together on this study published in Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The six-month trial analyzed 105 patients who had access to their electronic medical records involving sexually transmitted diseases, drug abuse, and mental health. The patients had the choice to designate which health care providers could see which information. The patients could hide all or some of the information. However, health care professionals could override a patient’s block and see it if they felt it was essential to the patient’s health.

Forty-nine percent of patients opted to withhold sensitive information. The patients strongly preferred having this control, whereas health care providers were divided. Half of the health care providers thought it acceptable for patients to withhold some information, but a quarter of them felt very uncomfortable not knowing all the information and believed it might affect the patient’s case.

The study noted it is important to provide patients with the possibility of controlling their records because otherwise they may refuse care or disregard health data altogether.  This practice may also help patients feel more confident in their providers and the health care system. Overall the study showcased people not only want control of their medical records but will actively put that control into action.

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