It is frustrating to be on a search mission for old medical records. I’ve doggedly looked for various records from several doctors in a variety of nooks and crannies. But when a nondescript manilla envelope with a return address of “Green Bay Plastic Surgical Associates” arrived in my Chicago mailbox I was too terrified to open it. It sat there on my desk, seeming to taunt me with its nonchalant ability to so easily ruffle my feathers.
But a day of reckoning had to arrive and I gingerly opened the package, pulling out 25 or so pages of photocopied medical records from my plastic surgeon for 20 years, Dr. Harold Hoops. If memory served me correctly, I went to Dr. Hoops after my original surgeon Dr. Thomas E. Lynn died several years after my accident. While I still have not been able to find Dr. Lynn’s original records, I quickly discovered that I had in my hands Dr. Hoops intake records and nearly 20 years of notes on my case.
There in his chicken-scratch of a doctor’s scribble were his notes on the history of my case:
Post-traumatic burn scars of the right leg and buttock; burned at home, age 2, at home stepped on lighted burner, stove, pant leg caught fire; initial care by Drs. Lynn and von Heimburg; St. Vincent Hospital, 3 months.
With just these few couple notes, I had confirmation of the stories I’d heard my whole life. I kept flipping through the pages and then I saw it — four photos of my own leg, front and back, taken at Dr. Hoops’ office when I was nine years old. It was hard to believe but I’d never seen a photo of my own leg like this. I gasped in shock at the sight of it. Then, turned the page and put the packet back in the manilla envelope. I needed more time before I would be ready to look again.
- Electronic Medical Records and Patient Safety (brighthub.com)