A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place: Checking Your Electronic Health Records for Errors and Omissions

Experts

Senior Attorney

By Dena Mendelsohn on Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Fourth in a blog series on health IT.

We’ve told you how electronic health records (EHRs) are improving your relationship with your doctors and making healthcare easier. But what if your records have errors?

Critical for patients is having the right to request errors be corrected in medical records or to add information that was omitted. Check out this short YouTube video that lays out your rights. Savvy consumers should review their electronic health records to verify whether the records are complete, accurate, and updated, and work with their providers to make corrections or modifications where necessary. One of our staff learned first hand the need for careful review when he lost 4 inches and gained 30 pounds on his electronic record!

Before your next doctor visit, take a look at your EHR and prepare any questions or corrections needed. Here are some areas you’ll want to focus on:

Patient Medication Record

Knowing what medications you take—and having your doctors on the same page—is not just smart; it can be a matter of life and death. Medication lists can be wrong for a variety of reasons: inaccuracies, gaps caused by multiple providers keeping separate records, and consumers taking vitamins or supplements their doctors aren’t aware of. Work with your providers to maintain an accurate record of all medications, vitamins, and supplements you take.

Make the most of your medications list:

  • Ask your doctor to update your medication list when any prescription medications are changed, added, or stopped by a physician or hospital;
  • Check whether the list includes any vitamins, herbs, supplements, and over-the-counter medicines you are taking; and
  • If you’re not comfortable going it alone, ask your doctor to electronically send the updated medication list to a family member or caregiver who can help you keep better records about your medications.

Medical and Lab Results

EHRs give us the ability to view medical and lab results more quickly and easily than before. Having medical tests and lab results sent to patients—and family members or caregivers—electronically completes the information loop. You should make the most of this opportunity by:

  • Asking about the best way to get answers to questions about medical and lab test results before you leave your providers’ office.
  • Contacting your doctor with questions or to request educational materials, if appropriate.
  • Asking your doctor to send the test results to other doctors involved in your care, or asking if you can transmit the information yourself.

Self-Collected Health Data

More and more patients are using devices to monitor and track their health. For example, wearable electronic pedometers, glucose monitors, and blood pressure and heart rate monitors are increasingly common. Soon, there may even be smart contact lenses that can test diabetics’ glucose levels. Some of the information derived from these devices, such as daily blood pressure readings for patients with high blood pressure, will be valuable for consumer’s physicians. This may be especially true in certain situations; for example, if there have been any recent changes in the consumer’s blood pressure medication.

If you use one of these devices to collect your own health data, ask your doctors whether you can share with them health information from these types of electronic self-monitoring and tracking devices and have that information included in your EHR. Although providers may not be open to this outside data, you can take the opportunity to engage your doctors in a discussion about how innovative tools can add depth to your health records.

Have you protected your health by checking your EHR for errors, omissions, and oversights? Let the health IT experts at Consumers Union know by sharing your story with us directly using this link. To join our movement and receive periodic updates and communications from Consumers Union Advocacy on this and other topics of interest to consumers like you, click here.

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