Doctors may choose to close or sell their practices for a variety of reasons: retirement, health issues, career changes; or in today's challenging reimbursement market: financial hardship. Whatever the cause may be, closing the door on your practice does not also close the door on your responsibility regarding the proper handling of your medical data. Instead, you need to consider how you'll handle future access and archives of patient records before you step away from your practice.
Topics: patient medical images
Usually the idea of patients controlling their own medical images strikes fear into the hearts of medical care professionals. Patients can jump to rash conclusions based off of their images, before even speaking to their medical care provider. While it may be controversial as to who should own medical images, the truth is having engaged patients will improve medical outcomes.
See how radiology has evolved since its founding in 1895
The history of radiology began with the need for more information: gathering internal images for delivering better patient care. German physicist, Wilhelm Conrad Röentgen, discovered what he called a "new kind of ray" in 1895, and the way medical care professionals understood and treated their patients was forever changed. Further developments in the field of radiology have been to enhance this comprehensive medical image and have resulted in ultrasounds, CTs, and MRIs.
Why patients should own their medical images?
Despite doctors reluctantly providing medical images directly to patients - there is a real need for patients to insist on access and control of these images. After all, the patient is the central hub for all of the images, records, diagnoses, that relate to him or her. So, it is completely logical that the patient would be THE appropriate repository for all information related to her own medical history. Otherwise, her medical record may be incomplete which may impact prescribed treatment.
Question: who owns my medical images? Answer: you can look but not touch.
It may amaze you to learn that the X-rays, CT Scans & MRIs of intimate parts of your anatomy are not your property. Pretty shocking, huh? In fact, the imaging center or hospital that took these images owns the title (copyright) to the image itself and the media on which it exists. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that many doctors are reluctant to provide their patients with these images.