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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Medical records belong to U.S. government

By Sgt. Christina Lovett | | June 29, 2000

If your name is on it, does that mean it belongs to you?
Not according to Petty Officer 2nd Class Roland Lewis. All medical records of active duty personnel, retirees and dependents are strictly the property of the U.S. government, stressed Lewis, work center supervisor for the medical records department here.
Lewis, the senior corpsman in the records department, oversees the upkeep and security of the medical records.
Active duty records are maintained through an annual verification, said Lewis. With the verification, yearly medical care is monitored to be sure active duty service members have updated immunizations, physicals and eye exams.
Dependents records are not monitored as closely, said Lewis. However, their medical care is still held to high standards. Anytime a medical care provider sees a patient at the clinic, it is documented in the record to keep all medical information current.
Where a problem lies is if someone comes in to be treated without having their record. There you have a piece of paper from one visit, floating around without a medical jacket to put it in, said Lewis. We are trying to get away from people hand-carrying their records.
Yearly, records are retired, according to Lewis. The record department goes through each medical record. The medical records personnel review each record to determine if the dependent or retiree patient has been seen during the past two years. If not, the patients record is sent to the military medical record warehouse in St. Louis, Mo.
When an active duty Marine retires or separates, his medical record goes to Headquarters Marine Corps, where it is downloaded onto microfiche, before being sent to St. Louis. This record is always maintained.
To minimize the possibility of lost records, according to Lewis, Naval Medical Hospital, Jacksonville, is trying to implement mailing dependent records.
We dont want people to hand-carry their records, because thats how they are getting lost, said Lewis.
A lot of times, patients will leave with their records, but they wont have them when they get to their next duty station, said Lewis.
Losing a medical record and its valuable contents could be detrimental to your health, said Lewis.
A medical record has everything in it concerning your health, Lewis claimed. That information is always needed for future treatment.
Every visit to see a doctor is documented in the medical record, as well as immunization records, eye appointments, X-ray reports and lab reports. Active duty members also have physicals, as well as a list of duty stations.
Past duty stations are monitored in case a medical problem may arise due to a place you may have been stationed, Lewis said.
Active duty personnel may face disciplinary action for losing their medical record, said Lewis, depending on the commands discretion. It is best to have clinic personnel make copies of the information he needs, thereby leaving the official record in place.
Although keeping your medical records may save time when checking it out, it may also jeopardize your health.
Remember, medical records are the property of the U.S. government  just as you have an appointed place of duty, so does your medical record.