“Check Your Medical Records for Dangerous Errors”
On November 21, ABC News ran an important story on checking your medical records for dangerous errors that could result in serious injuries or death. Older adults in particular have cause to be especially careful about what, exactly, is in their records. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, nearly one in 10 people who access records online end up having to request important corrections.
The Impact of “Minor” Transcription Errors
While the worst-case scenario is an incorrect diagnosis, lab result, or scan being inserted into a record and resulting in inappropriate medical evaluations or treatments, this is, unfortunately, not just the worst-case scenario, it is all too common, and on the rise. Even basic transcription errors can make all the difference in the world, indicating that a patient suffers from kidney cancer, for example, rather than skin cancer; or noting that someone as an underactive thyroid when in fact it should read overactive thyroid. There is no question that error and omissions can be equally devastating.
And when it comes to conditions like cancer, it can make all the difference between life and death, for example, that a pathology report correctly identifies what is going on, and reach the appropriate medical authorities in charge of patient care.
Details That Are “Easy” To Misreport
Even details that are “easy” to make errors with—a patient’s name, contact information, etc.—can lead to devastation if family history hasn’t been conveyed properly, or they cannot be reached in the instance of an emergency, etc. In a nutshell, any mistakes that make it into the system can cause severe downstream harm, and they happen every day.
Your Rights under HIPAA
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) required that national standards be established for electronic health care transactions and provides you with the right to review your medical record and request a correction if you discover an error. However, it has been noted that healthcare providers—concerned about penalties under the law—can sometimes respond with an overly guarded approach to disclosing information. Under the law, hospitals and physicians are required to respond to your request within 60 days, with the possibility of a 30-day extension. In addition, if you receive a rejection, you have the right to contest this decision.
Contact Our Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Medical malpractice in the form of medical errors can be extremely complicated, and require strong cases, with excellent experts, in response to the aggressive defenses often mounted by hospitals and healthcare providers. If you or a loved one has suffered as the result of such an error, contact our experienced Boca Raton medical malpractice attorneys at Lavalle, Brown & Ronan today to find out how we can help.