X rays, ultrasound, scintigraphy, thermography and other diagnostic technology all produce valuable information about your horse's health, and diagnostic images and printouts are important additions to management of your home medical file whether you simply file them or use them to seek second opinions. However, who actually owns the documents and images produced by these tests isn't always clear.
Veterinarians own and keep an original copy of every test and image they produce, just as photographers retain the rights to their photographs. From both a professional and a legal standpoint, veterinarians need to have immediate access to the diagnostic information those images contain. As a paying client, however, you have a legal right to purchase copies of all the images and readings concerning your horse.
You can request copies of all images after the test is run, but be prepared to wait and pay an extra charge. Copies of X rays, for instance, must be made at specially equipped clinics. A better idea is to ask for a copy before a test is run. Then the technician may be able to just load a second film in the X-ray cassette or run a second printout of a test.
This article first appeared with the story, "For the Record" in the April 2000 issue of EQUUS magazine.