Records vital part of medical community

Alisa Boswell

Editor’s note: This is the first in a weekly series in March on the medical community.

Records are a vital part of the medical field, according to Roosevelt General Hospital personnel in the records office.

“These charts are patients’ lives,” said records office Administration Assistant Krystle Barton. “They’re not just used by doctors. They’re used in law and medical cases. Everything has to be complete and accurate. We’re held responsible for everything that comes in here.”

Barton and Records Director Marilyn Buchanan said without documentation of patients’ ailments and how they’re treated, doctors would be back at square one when a patient returns to the hospital.

“With our records, we provide doctors with information and give people peace of mind about what’s going on,” Buchanan said. “We feel like we’re providing a piece of their health care in those records because their health care is documented in there.”

Barton said knowing they are helping the community is the rewarding part of the job.

“I’m from the area, so taking care of the community is what’s important to me,” Barton said. “That’s what we’re here for is caring for the community. To some of them, we are family.”

Both women agreed the challenging part of the job is maintaining accuracy with all records at all times.

Buchanan, who has been in the business for 42 years, said doctors record reports into a recording device, then records office personnel transcribe the reports.

She said records are also arranged in a certain order. They are shelved according to the patient’s assigned number then inside the patient’s folder, their medical records are listed in chronological order, beginning with the most recent visit/ailment.

“It’s black and white,” Buchanan said of the job. “The rules and regulations tell me what I have to do and what I’m responsible for. To me, having those rules makes it easy to know what I have to do.”

Buchanan said patients have to fill out a form to obtain their medical records and show a photo ID. She said no one other than medical personnel is allowed to obtain a person’s records unless they are given power of attorney by that person.

She said with children, only parents or legal guardians can obtain their records without power of attorney.

“We don’t talk about losing records. That’s a major no-no. We have checks and balances every time you turn around,” Buchanan said.