Find Out What Your Doctor Really Thinks About You

(CNN) — I was sitting in a wheelchair in an elevator of a hospital when the aide pushing me lay a binder on my lap. My medical record!

It was heavy, hundreds of pages charting all I had endured since a runaway truck in Jerusalem broke my neck months before on May 16, 1990. I knew that medical charts were off-limits to patients. But I was 19 and hemiplegic (the left half of me paralyzed) and curious. And so, I opened it with my one good hand and read what a droll psychologist at Mount Sinai had somehow gleaned from our occasional games of chess: “Joshua appears compliant and motivated and expressed good insight into the nature and course of his disability.” I closed the binder quickly, my mind at ease.

Patients no longer have to resort to stolen glances. Ever since 1996, when Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, all of us (save a small number of people with severe mental health disorders) have had the right to read our records.

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