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Mistakes in Medical Records Can Harm Patients

Mistakes in Medical Records Can Harm Patients - Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter

New York City, NY – Top attorney handles medical malpractice, medical misdiagnosis, surgical errors, wrongful death, airline injuries & death, MTA train and bus accidents, and construction injury cases.  Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter consistently delivers results.

When you go to the doctor, one of the first things you probably notice is that doctors and their staff are required to keep meticulous records. From documenting a patient’s height and weight to detailing information about their vital signs, health history, medications, signs and symptoms, health professionals maintain important data about their patients.

Ideally, each time a new or returning patient is treated in the office the medical staff will update their medical information. This practice helps to ensure that health professionals always have the most up to date information available before they prescribe medication, order tests or offer treatment.  

Obviously, there are important reasons for doing this. Without good recordkeeping practices, doctors can overlook important information that could lead to misdiagnosing the patient or offering inappropriate treatment. For example, failing to record that a patient takes a certain medication could cause a doctor to prescribe a different medication that conflicts with the first drug, possibly leading to a harmful drug interaction.

As much as health professionals strive to accurately record information about their patients, recordkeeping mistakes still happen. As medical records shift from paper to electronic format, these errors can still occur. When a patient’s chart includes inaccurate information, it can lead to medical mistakes.  If you or a loved one has suffered injury or harm due to a mistake in your medical records, you should speak with a Manhattan medical malpractice lawyer like Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter as soon as possible.

Common Medical Record Mistakes

  • Misspelled Information – If a patient has an unusual or difficult to pronounce name, they might have seen it misspelled on a medical record at some point. While this might seem like a simple mistake to fix, a misspelled name has the potential to lead to serious consequences.

    For example, if the patient’s identity is confused with that of another patient, the results can be catastrophic. Medical personnel could end up prescribing the wrong medication or missing something important in the patient’s health history. In a surgical setting, a physician might perform an operation on a patient that did not need it, or might perform an operation on the wrong part of a patient’s body. The wrong date of birth or incorrect address could lead to misidentifying a patient and cause the patient to suffer irreparable harm. Blood and tissue specimens must be properly labeled, or a patient may be told they have a disease that actually they do not have. Conversely, the patient whose specimen was improperly labeled may go untreated for a condition that he or she actually suffers from.
  • Incorrect Notes – Medical record mistakes can also occur when a doctor or medical professional records the wrong information. As an example, consider a patient who went to an urgent care center with a fracture of the right ankle.

    If the nurse or doctor records a left ankle fracture, the patient may not realize that their medical records contain a mistake. If the patient later needs surgery on the injured ankle, the incorrect records could follow the patient without the patient realizing the mistake.

    In other cases, a patient’s medical records contain completely inaccurate information that has nothing to do with the patient’s medical history. In one case, a college student discovered that her medical chart said she had given birth twice. In reality, she had never been pregnant. If she hadn’t requested copies of her medical records, it’s possible she would have never seen the error.
  • Wrong Treatment Dates – It’s also possible for a patient’s medical records to contain incorrect treatment dates. For example, if the patient underwent surgery, the medical record might include the wrong date for the procedure.
  • Missing Records – As a growing number of hospitals and doctors’ offices make the switch from paper to electronic records, not every provider has a complete and accurate medical history for his or her patients. A lack of accurate documentation can lead to mistakes in medical records if a doctor is forced to rely on the patient’s memory to fill in missing information.

Mistakes in medical records can lead to serious consequences for patients. In some cases, incorrect information causes medication mistakes, such as a patient receiving the wrong type or dose of medication.

According to patient safety advocates, patients can take steps to ensure the information in their medical records is accurate. To start, patients can obtain copies of their medical records so they can check the accuracy of their records.

If they find a mistake in their medical records, patients can contact the hospital or doctor’s office and request a change or update. Safety experts say patients should never hesitate to check their medical records for inconsistencies or incorrect information.

If you believe you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, a knowledgeable Manhattan medical malpractice lawyer can help explain your legal options. If you need the best lawyer for malpractice in New York City, contact Jonathan C. Reiter Law Firm in Manhattan today.

 

Manhattan Medical Malpractice Attorney Jonathan C. Reiter

(T): 212-736-0979

350 5th Ave Suite 6400

New York, NY 10118

https://www.jcreiterlaw.com/

Sources:

  1. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/09/medical-record-errors-common-hard-to-fix.html
  2. https://www.post-gazette.com/business/healthcare-business/2017/04/10/medication-error-electronic-health-record-hospitals-patient-safety-authority/stories/201704090072

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