TV Shows and Movies
Shots ring out in the city. Sirens blare. Emergency response vehicles are rolling. Police cars, fire engines and ambulances are all en route to the major disaster on screen. The trauma patient is loaded into the back of the ambulance and taken to the nearest hospital emergency room. The nurse quickly references the patient’s medical records and relays the pertinent allergies and medications to the emergency room doctor. The doctor, meanwhile, knows that all he has to do is get the bullet out and the bleeding will stop.
You know the story is fake. You know that some of the details are going to give up authenticity for the sake of “poetic license” and storytelling. But you also know that some of it must be real. You see the same scenario played out on multiple different shows and movies. You know that they have technical advisors. You assume that some things are realistic. And when you see many of the same things repeated over and over across different shows and different years you begin to unconsciously believe those consistently repeated items to be the ones that are true.
The Reality of Medical Records
There are a lot of laws regarding the use of electronic health records. Similarly there are a lot of laws about the privacy of your personal health information. But, unlike what is shown on TV, there is no centralized medical record system for all doctors and hospitals to view.
Each hospital system or private practice physician will select and choose from several electronic health record systems. Even if two doctors happen to use the same electronic health record program, if they aren’t part of the same healthcare company, then they won’t be able to see each other’s notes.
Some modern health care insurance companies also offer their own health care facilities, like Kaiser Permanente. If you are within that system then you can go to any Kaiser facility and see any Kaiser doctor and the doctor will be able to see all of your Kaiser history and medical records. But if you are in an accident and go to a non-Kaiser emergency room the doctors there will have absolutely no information other than what you tell them, if you can.
What does it matter?
Just like that emergency room doctor, the FAA only knows what you tell them. If you assume the FAA can look up your medical information easily on a central database then you are setting yourself up for a long medical certification process.
The medical history many pilots submit may not have all the answers the FAA needs to make a medical certification decision, but it probably has enough to pique their interest. Every time the FAA asks a question, you can expect another three to four months before your medical certification.
As we mentioned before, getting your medical certificate quickly starts with filling out your MedXPress in a way that tells a complete and consistent story. If you need to have supporting documentation by a physician, then you really need it to meet the requirements set by the FAA. They want this level of detail precisely because they have no other way of getting the information. And, if your application does not have the information they want, the FAA will keep asking until they get it, no matter how long it takes.
If you would like help to make sure you are putting your best foot forward at your next FAA medical, we are a free consultation away. What are you waiting for?