Monday, August 15, 2016

Another Limit of the Electronic Health Record

Do most people take the time to review their medical record? Of course not. In my case, what was supposed to be a tool to improve care missed the mark.

For 35 years I had the same internist. As he changed practices I went with him. Whether he was a preferred provider or not it was reassuring to know that he had my whole health history at his fingertips. He could flip through the decades of my health history and see the changes in my life. It was wonderful to feel the security inherent in the vision of continuity of care.

All that came to an abrupt stop when this past year my internist retired. I was all prepared to find a new internist when I realized it would be helpful to have a copy of my medical record. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that 31 years of my medical history were gone.  What had happened?

It seems that when my internist changed his practice to being part of MedStar my paper records did not go with him. MedStar was on an electronic system and the health record they had was only for the last four years he had been with them.  All previous paper records were not with MedStar. When I asked what happened to 31 years of my health record the MedStar person referred me to my internist’s former practice.

It seemed that while Medstar was willing to take the patients that came with the physician the paper health records of the patient were not welcome.
The situation became more problematic as I reviewed my electronic record.    There were diagnoses for conditions I never had and prescriptions that were never given.

My suggestion to everyone? Carefully review your medical record and keep a copy of it for yourself. The life you end up saving may be your own.