You cannot understand your case without reading, reviewing, and digesting the medical records. Several things – in addition to poor handwriting, for which there is no help – stand in your way: (1) you are not a doctor, and therefore many of the terms make no sense; (2) medical personnel rely heavily on abbreviations and symbols, which you cannot interpret; and (3) the records presume that the reader understands the significance of various test results, but you have no idea if a particular result means the patient is healthy or on his deathbed.
Over time, you will find that you become familiar with the most common abbreviations. Some tests will become familiar to you. Many terms will be understandable. However, to be most efficient, it is helpful to obtain tools which help you make sense of the records immediately. Here are tools I rely on and find useful:
I. Medical Symbols and Abbreviations
a. Medical Abbreviations: 24,000Cconveniences at the Expense of Communications and Safety, 11th Edition, Published by Neil M. Davis Associates. Includes single-user access license to internet version of the book, which is updated each month.
II. Meanings of Medical Terms
a. Dorlands Illustrated Medical Dictionary, Saunders, 29th Edition
b. There are many other excellent medical dictionaries, including those specific to certain areas of medicine.
III. Diagnostic Tests and Procedures
a. Mosby’s Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference, 5th Edition, 2001
b. Contains a list of abbreviations for laboratory and diagnostic tests.
a. Physician’s Desk Reference
b. Nursing Drug Handbook
V. Other Helpful Sources
i. New textbooks on the subject of interest to you are costly but current and very helpful. Learning an area of medical information in depth can help you understand the significance of various entries in the records.
ii. You also should look regularly at Hamilton Books (http://www.hamiltonbook.com) to get great books, sometimes for as little as $1.98.
iii. Amazon also has a used book service and you can sometimes find used copies for a fraction of the new cost (but be careful if you don’t obtain the most current version)
c. A Registered Nurse’s favorite resources:
www.medicinenet.com (then click on dictionary)
www.4woman.org/nwhic/references/dictionary.htm (online dictionaries and journals)
Large Listing of Medical-Related Sites