Medical records are the bedrock to good patient care. With the rise of the digital age, these records have become standardized and easily accessible to the patient. With the advent of ‘eat healthy’ and ‘live right’ movements, people have become more diligent in keeping track of their medical records.
However, there’s still a significant number of people who are unaware of the advantages of keeping track of their records and researching patient rights. Considering how complex the medical system has become, it’s all the more important to pay attention to your records.
Medical records are generally comprised of:
- The patient’s particulars (name, date of birth, contact details)
- The medical history of the patient. This includes known allergies, health conditions, and all medical and/or surgical procedures performed.
- Correspondence between specialists and the general practitioner
- All consent forms
- The general practitioner’s notes on the patient including test results, x-rays, scans, and examination findings
- Recommended treatments in accordance with the examination findings and medications prescribed to that effect
This article will delve into the reasons why all patients must pay attention to the details in their medical records.
1. Checking For Mistakes
‘To err is human’ is an old saying that still holds a lot of weight today. While standard practices keep mistakes to a minimum, they still occur, and it’s your job as the patient to ensure that all the information in your medical records is correct. Especially in large practices, it’s easy for files to be misplaced or misfiled. In the worst-case scenario, your information could be input incorrectly.
You can imagine the confusion that can occur in such situations. A patient may be diagnosed incorrectly, given the wrong medication that’d worsen their condition instead of curing them. In the best case, they experience some discomfort. In the worst is death can be a real possibility.
Wherever possible, check your records, especially the medication recommended and administered to ensure they’re in line with the condition that’s ailing you. A small mistake can be fatal, so always be cautious when it comes to your health.
2. Keep On Track
Knowing your medical information and your test results helps you keep your treatment commitments. It’s easy to fall behind on treatments and medications if you don’t have a thorough understanding of your situation. Keeping track of your information is crucial to see if there’s a more effective medicine that’s being produced with fewer side effects for your condition and is more affordable.
3. Always Be Ready
Back in the day, you consult the family doctor for everything. But now, patients see a variety of specialists and doctors for their various ailments. Although the medical industry has taken great strides to have all records available electronically, not all your specialists will have access to the information.
As a patient, it’s your responsibility to combine all the information and have it ready when you have to either change doctors or see a new specialist. This saves the doctors a lot of time in diagnosing your condition and making sure the subsequent treatment plan doesn’t clash with any existing allergies or ailments.
It’s always a sad case when one watches the news and sees a report of death due to misinformation in the hospital. Keeping your information is crucial to stop this from happening.
4. Avoid Duplication
It’s apparent how expensive healthcare can be. And there’s nothing more frustrating than to be forced to do tests that have already been done as a result of negligence to check existing records. To save yourself money and time, it’s prudent to keep all your information available.
5. Evidence Of Malpractice
It can be said that all the earlier points lead to this final one. Malpractice is the legal cause of action that occurs when a medical professional, due to negligence or an act of omission, deviates from standard practice and causes harm to a patient.
Keeping good medical records will help when you decide to pursue legal action in situations such as this. Also, collected evidence will save a lot of time in assessing the validity of the claims. In this way, you’d have proof that you didn’t do anything wrong to worsen your condition.
It’s a patient’s right to have access to their medical information. Some hospitals and practitioners may give you a hard time when you request copies of your records, but this shouldn’t stop you in any way. Your health is your wealth, so protect it well. Consider the ideas mentioned here as you secure your records.