Dear Readers: Do you know what your rights are when it comes to MEDICAL RECORDS? The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule gives you the right to not only see but get copies of most of your medical records.

Providers do have the right to charge a fee for copies of your medical records. I have found that some do and some don’t. Ask your health-care professional if he or she does. Consider if you want only the past year (and it’s just a few pages) or you want ALL of your records (it’s a lot). Medical staff can charge you for time spent copying your records and the materials used to do it, if they want to.

State laws vary on this issue, but it’s important for you to know your rights. -- Heloise

P.S.: To keep up, ask for a copy of ALL of your lab tests, etc., right then, and start your own health file. It’s easy to do.


Dear Heloise: Help! I got stuck outside in a rainstorm, and even though the leather on my dress shoes is protected, the insides were soaked. What should I do next time this happens? -- Jonathan L., via e-mail

Boy, this does seem to happen, and it’s not fun! Next time, just grab some newspapers, open them up and kind of crunch them into a loose ball, then stuff them into the shoes. It helps the shoes keep their shape, and it absorbs the moisture (you may need to replace the papers a couple of times).

Do NOT put the shoes near direct heat or sunlight. Also, sprinkle a little baking soda in them to help absorb moisture and some stinky odor as well. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: With school out for the summer, my daughters and I are spending time in the kitchen baking treats and making dinners. My daughters wear old T-shirts to cook in instead of aprons. Aprons are too big, and the ties get in the way. A T-shirt fits against the body, and it’s easy to wash. -- Jennifer L. in Indiana

Love it! A favorite Heloise hint for bakers and little Picassos is to use a man’s old large shirt. Put it on backward and roll up the sleeves, and it covers everything. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I noticed that the top of my dresser in the bedroom was getting more and more cluttered with all of my personal cosmetics, perfume, deodorant, hair spray and the like.

I purchased a decorative medicine cabinet with a mirror. I hung it over my dresser, and now I have everything that I need, behind closed doors. I have a clean dresser top, and everything I use is neatly tucked away. -- Joan in New Hampshire


Dear Heloise: A good use of a pill sorter is for storing dress-shirt buttons. From the tiny to the large, they all can be contained. -- Cathy W. in Indiana

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or e-mail it to

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