It is not unusual to sit in a waiting room for a considerable amount of time before seeing a Louisiana doctor. Patients may notice receptionists, nurses and doctors passing around dozens of patient charts as they hurry through the appointments. The information inside those charts keeps a patient’s health care team in the loop about the patient’s history, health conditions, prescriptions and allergies that could prevent mistakes that may lead to personal injury claims. However, what if the mistakes are within the chart?
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology reports that 10 percent of patients report mistakes to their physicians after accessing online medical records. Mistakes can occur when patients have similar names, when medical staff fails to record details of the patient’s history or when someone enters an incorrect code for a medical procedure. Doctors or nurses may also make other careless mistakes, such as recording hyperthyroidism instead of hypothyroidism or logging patient information in the wrong patient’s file.
While many charting mistakes can be easily corrected, some have life-changing consequences. For example, by the time one man discovered that a critical pathology report had been omitted from his file, his cancer had spread to his spine; that ultimately resulted in his death. All patients have a right to access their medical records, and some patient advocates recommend they do so from time to time to make sure the information is accurate.
When injury or death results from careless charting by a doctor or nurse, families may suffer unspeakable grief. While money may not restore what is lost, through a personal injury claim, Louisiana patients or their families may be able to seek some justice. Additionally, holding medical professionals accountable for their mistakes may result in broader changes that can save lives in the future.