The Dark Side of Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

The US government is pushing putting health records into computerized electronic media that can be shared amongst health providers.  The idea is that this will provide greater access to these records for health professionals so they can provide consistent health care between the different specialists and doctors.

There is a dark side, however.  Not surprisingly, allowing greater access between the different health professionals also allows the potential for greater access to hackers.  At Old Goat Guide blog, the article “Identity Theft And Health Care Data” points out “there is also a growing risk of such records being  tampered with, possibly resulting in identity theft.”

However, that is not the only issue.  While sharing accurate information can immensely help, the sharing of inaccurate information can lead to great harm.  Glaring errors and even misdiagnoses can kill a patient.  WebMD had a piece at the beginning of the year “When Your Medical Records are Wrong”, which stated:

What jumped out at me among the many comments left by readers was just how many people found glaring errors in their medical records. Their doctors, in some cases, included notes that in no way resembled their medical situation or the events patients recall having taken place in the exam room.

Their suggestion is to regularly check your records for inaccuracies, just as you would your credit report.  However, one item most might not be aware of:

When it comes to your medical records, you have the right to see them but you don’t have the right to remove information you think is wrong or simply don’t want included. That’s because the information kept by your doctors and hospitals is a legal record of care and completely removing information would have potential implications for medical liability.

Instead, you need to get them amended, and the WebMD article tells you more about that process.  However, in extreme cases, legal action might be required.

It is better to fix it now while you are healthy than after a mistake made because of inaccurate information.