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Moving and the Medical Treatment Records Dance

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Moving and the Medical Treatment Records Dance

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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Location: United States

After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Moving and the Medical Treatment Records Dance

We've run into our first moving snafu. I feel like Forrest Gump. My husband can't get PCS orders until ALL of our medical records get screened for the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) person. Our whole family needs to sit in front of a board with a doctor and a social worker. Since my Army husband is stationed on an Air Force base, he needs to comply with their rules (I had never heard of this in the Army). This means we can't schedule our actual move, and we can't leave this place until then. My doctor is being difficult (yes, I am being seen off-post) and will only release my records after I arrive at my new place and have a new doctor to mail the records to. If I want to make the copies and hand carry them, it would be $1 per page...huh? So, if I let this get to me, I'm stuck...can't move without the stuff but can't get the stuff until we move. What a crock!

Dealing with my kids' doctor was a bit better. They lit their pants on fire and got the records copied in one day, going outside their one week protocol..and yes, they didn't charge me for that. I bought them a box of the good chocolate. My word of advice to you....before your military spouse gets his orders, especially if you get your medical care off-post like we do, assemble a list of where all your medical and dental records are. I know I had to make a list of some of the specialists I have seen over the last few years (not all procedures were in my primary care doctor's file). I also had to hunt down my last two mammograms (you should have both)...not to mention the kids' dental and my dental records. Get the requests in EARLY to each office. You have to sign a medical release form in order to get copies. Every office was accomodating except for my own doctor's office. Since I don't feel like dealing with them right now, I will use my old military medical record I had when we first moved here (when I got my care on-post), and then request my current record after I move.

I have a nurse friend who gets a copy of the paperwork from each doctor's visit and manages her and her childrens' records. She never has a problem with any of this and when her husband retires, she will have a complete medical history. If you do have any civilian medical records, please do hang onto them. Don't add them to your military treatment record...that becomes government property, and I can't tell you the number of times I have heard of lost records. Your medical records are important...treat them as such.

Do you have any moving stories to share?



Blogger Linda said...

It seems to me the rules for medical records change depending on what post we are at! My husband always hand carried his records...never submitted them to be "kept". But Ft. McPherson would NOT give them back to him until we PCS'ed. He went to pick up the rest of our records (my daughter's and mine) and they wouldn't release them...they told us to have the new post request them. Well, we were going to a Navy base for 6 months. THEY do things differently, too. And we were assigned off-post since they had "no space" at the on post clinic/hospitals (there are a LOT of Navy posts in the Hampton Roads area!). My civilian doctor requested our records, but Ft. McPherson wouldn't release them to a civilian. Huh...go figure. So we had 6 months of no medical records to go by. Arguing with the doctor about prescriptions that I'd had for 2 years...having to be re-tested for all sorts of stuff. ugh.

We were stationed at Ft. Gordon. We went to records to ask them to request the records from Ft. Mac. They said Ft. Mac would release them in 2 months. TWO MONTHS? The two posts are 2 1/2 hours apart! So...I had business in Atlanta and walked in to Ft. Mac and told them I needed our records for an off-post consult. They signed them right over to me. I returned to Ft. Gordon, told them I got my med records from Ft. Mac, and that they needed to straighten it out with each other about who had jurisdiction over the darned things.

When we left for Germany, I hand carried my records - Ft. Gordon was not so proprietary about them. I had them in my possession until I finally had to use the clinic at our station. During that time, I copied all of our records.

I will continue to keep copying them, too. I will use whatever method necessary to get them.

With my previous civilian records, I got all the copies I could, refusing to pay (they do eventually give in, particularly when you tell them that you'll make sure they get blacklisted or removed from Tricare or something similar...or when you let them know that you could make the copies for MUCH cheaper)

My biggest peeve about that is WHY are MY medical records property of someone else? It's about ME...why would they want to keep that, particularly when I am LEAVING THE AREA and will never be there again? They're just going to purge them eventually. Then they'll go to some document destruction place...and in the end I could have still had that info.

Sorry about the book, lol!

April 18, 2008 at 5:41 PM  
Blogger Bon said...

This is really timely. I've actually been thinking about this and how to handle it this very week. In light of your post and Linda's comment I think I'll approach the whole thing in a far more controlling way. I'll get the records, I'll make the copies and I'll keep them. What a pain this is.

April 19, 2008 at 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is against the law to withhold your records if you are seeing a "private" doctor. Try looking up the HEPPA rules and laws, there has to be some way for you to get them without waiting for him to send them to your next new doctor. Good luck. Carol

April 20, 2008 at 3:18 AM  
Anonymous AF Medic said...

The weird procedures aren't AF-specific (we only require the form); they're installation-specific. If you guys are moving overseas, this form is pretty important because it ensures your family can receive care at whatever location you end up in. We're in remote Japan and have had family members who gamed the system arrive, only to get sent home within a few weeks of arrival. Basically, once the local care provider saw them/their records and said "we don't have the resources to care for this patient."

So following the protocol, however painful, can really be worth the time. Much better than getting sent back to the States because the system can't take care of you. And they don't shorten tour length for the active duty member when the family gets sent home either; we still have to serve the full accompanied tour (if that's what we signed up for).

As far as your civilian doc, there shouldn't be any reason he wouldn't give you a copy. The new (sort of) HIPAA laws have made providers really squirrelly because the fines are really high. It sounds like the $1 a page is a discouragement fee of sorts. You might consider paying for the pages with any significant procedures or substantial changes from your medical history included in your "old" military records.

You can look into HIPAA law as mentioned by a previous poster, but that's the justification for the doc not giving you the information. It's generally more complicated than it's worth.

Do your best to get as much of your care documentation and go to the annoying appt; hopefully it'll go quickly. Don't misrepresent anything.

Last, find out if the Army will allow your husband to include the copy charges on his travel voucher as a PCS-related/incurred expense.

April 21, 2008 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

AF Medic, thank you for the timely advice! Yes, we did go to the appt...I totally understand and agree why the screening is necessary. It's just that we didn't know about it til the last minute (and they only do it twice a month, so if you miss orders). We also had a social worker there, ask us all about abuse in the family...which made no sense to me. What wife is going to say in front of her husband, "oh yeah, he only hits me a few times a day" or whatever...if they really wants answers, they need to separate the spouses...the AF people in the briefing got their paperwork back in one Army folks will have to wait for a week because the records now go to Ft Gordon..there has to be a more efficient way! To think all this can hold up your orders!

Interesting on the travel voucher claim...I hadn't thought of that. I'll check that out, but I think I already resigned myself to getting my records's so dumb because now they have to pay for postage too and not just copying...

April 21, 2008 at 1:42 PM  
Anonymous AF medic said...

You're welcome. I didn't doubt you guys saw the reasoning behind the appointment, but I did want to make sure all your readers knew how important it was to go as well! :)

I agree that the system as it is usually set up could use improvement. Once medical records go electronic, then we all might be able to get the paperwork in one day....but then computer crashes would slow the process down, right?

Not sure if it'll make you feel any less frustrated, but we just had to complete the paperwork to return to the States. I think it's excessive and will end up not even being taken by the folks who cut our orders; I'm betting our case will turn out to be an overachieving EFMP manager. But the AF is the orders until paperwork complete. And I'd like to be able to schedule a pack-out sometime before we PCS! What are they going to do; prevent us from returning to the States (and a larger base/medical group)?

Anyway, thanks for an interesting blog. I love checking in on you!

April 23, 2008 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

So you are in the same boat we are in..just going in opposite directions!

April 23, 2008 at 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Tony Maro said...

Yep, since the government allowed for patients to be charged to get their own records, many docs started making them cough up the dough. They have a gentleman's agreement that they generally won't charge each other though...

And, um... I'm flattered you used a pic I took to caption the blog post. I think. That's why I pasted "PROOF" across it :-) It's copyright 2008 HCR Imaging, Inc. so you know. I give you permission to use it on this blog entry.

April 25, 2008 at 12:15 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Tony, I didn't even notice the word proof! I must be completely blind. I'm going to have to change the photo then. I have been following the Flickr user agreements that allows you to use photos posted on their site as long as you give credit, which I have been doing by linking back to the submitter's photos.

April 25, 2008 at 1:10 PM  

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