Medical records must remain in hospital

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

***image1***Many KMC people who receive care at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center attempt to keep their medical records. Some believe it will benefit them to have their records on hand for convenience, while others believe the hospital is prone to lose records.
Army Staff Sgt. Shannon M. Swords, NCO in charge of the LRMC Patient Affairs Branch, Patient Administration Division, said medical records of the Department of the Defense beneficiaries are property of the U.S. Government, and according to Army Regulation 40-66, Medical Records Administration and Health Care Documentation, all military medical records will be maintained at a military medical facility at all times. The Hospital Commander is the official custodian of the medical record. The commander delegated the responsibility and accountability for medical records to the Patient Administration Division.
When patients check out their records, they are required by law to return them as soon as possible.
“It’s a problem we deal with a lot here as the only military medical center in Europe” said Sergeant Swords.
Providers routinely send paperwork to the Outpatient Records section to be added to medical records. If the records are not available, they put the paperwork in a folder to be added to the record when it arrives. However, if a patient who keeps his own record visits a clinic, the doctor has an incomplete medical history and cannot do his job effectively.
“The biggest problem is continuity of care,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Harold Patterson, NCO in charge of LRMC Patient Administration.
“If you have a follow-up with a physician, they may make notes and write them on your chart. If you leave records at home or in the trunk of your car during an appointment, there is no way the doctor can remember what they wrote.”
Each record is bar-coded and marked properly according to service regulations.
“If the record leaves the hospital, there is a good chance it will get lost,” Sgt. 1st Class Patterson said.
Every time a record leaves or returns, it is scanned and filed. If one turns up misplaced, the clinic can easily tell when the last time the record was touched. If it was filed incorrectly, its color and other distinctive features will make it stand out.
Occasionally, a provider will keep a record to review. In this case, the record also can be easily retrieved by informing the clinic the record needs to be returned.
In the end, a medical record is the property of the U.S. government and needs to be kept in a secure location.
If the patient desires a copy of their records, a copy can be obtained free by contacting the Correspondence Office, Patient Administration Division, 486-6530/8822.