New research is looking to answer this question by studying what happens when patients have access to their doctor’s notes.
The WSJ says:
A study currently under way, called the OpenNotes project, is looking at what happens when doctors’ notes become available for a patient to read, usually on electronic medical records. In a report on the early stages of the study, published Tuesday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers say that inviting patients to review the records can improve patient understanding of their health and get them to stick to their treatment regimens more closely.
But researchers also point to possible downsides: Patients may panic if their doctor speculates in writing about cancer or heart disease, leading to a flood of follow-up calls and emails. And doctors say they worry that some medical terms can be taken the wrong way by patients. For instance, the phrase “the patient appears SOB” refers to shortness of breath, not a derogatory designation. And OD is short for oculus dexter, or right eye, not for overdose.
The WSJ says you already have a legal right to see your entire medical record, including notes, unless you are a psychiatric patient and your doctor doesn’t feel that it would be in your best interest.
The article also includes a glossery of terms that you might find on your doctor’s notes. We were relieved to find out that “nerd” is “No evidence of recurrent disease.”