What happens to your medical records when a hospital shuts down?
They could be lost forever, unless you're willing to pay for them.
We wanted to know just how important the records really are.
The question came up this week after former Hawaii Medical Center patients started receiving these letters in the mail.
Basically, anyone who's ever been treated at HMC east or west has until September to decide if they want to pay to get a copy of their medical records, and doctors say it's well worth it.
When Hawaii Medical Centers in Liliha and Ewa closed more than a year ago, that left the hospitals with tens of thousands of patients' medical records.
HMC has sent out notices saying those records will be destroyed by September 24th, or former patients can order a copy for about $40.00.
So how important is it to get them?
"You never know what information that was obtained in the past may have an impact on your future care," said Dr. Naoky Tsai, Queen's Medical Center.
Dr. Naoky Tsai from Queen's Medical Center says all patients should get a copy of their records.
He says doctors need every bit of medical history to give the best care, especially in the long run.
"Be it X-rays, be it pathology reports, those information may not mean much to you now it may mean a lot for you in the future," said Tsai.
A worst case scenario would be a patient allergic to a medication, and forgets about it years later.
"And if you get it wrongly you could get a very violent reaction to it and sometimes death can occur," said Tsai.
In some cases your current doctor may already have copies of the records kept by HMC, but Dr. Tsai says you can't assume that.
"If the physician who was taking are of you while you were in the hospital they'll probably get that information. But if they're not then they might not get that information automatically," said Tsai.
Dr. Tsai says there is a way to get a copy without having to pay.
There's a form you can get from your current doctor asking HMC for your medical records.
Dr. Tsai points out that free offer might not last too long so patients should do it soon.
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