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Upside/downside of letting patients read physicians’ notes

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A growing number of hospital systems and physician practices are making it easier for patients to read physicians’ clinical notes about their patients’ care.

These institutions are letting patients read the unedited write-ups of their visits, which often include candid observations and hypotheses that historically were hidden from patients, in part because of fear of litigation and misinterpretation.

Health systems doing this see it as yet another step toward achieving full transparency in healthcare,  following the opening of access to lab results and X-ray images that has become the common practice over recent years. The idea, of course, is to get  patients more involved in their own care.

But many clinicians fear that letting ¬†patients view the notes can open up dangerous confusion through patients’ misunderstanding physicians’ observations and increase physicians’ already heavy workloads.
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