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Are your medical records accurate?

Some experts are suggesting that people should review their medical records for accuracy.

Take a moment to think about your medical history. When was the last time you went to the doctor? If you're like many people, it was probably at least within the last year. Now, when was the last time you looked at your medical records? Don't worry. If your answer is "never," your situation is not unusual.

Although a record is made every time you go in for a routine medical appointment, have lab work done or undergo a surgical operation, most people never actually see those medical records. According to patient safety advocates, that could be dangerous.

Consequently, some people are now recommending that you ask your doctors to see your medical records. What you find may surprise you.

Many medical records contain errors

Whenever an error is made regarding your health, the consequences can be serious. In fact, one woman who requested her medical records discovered an error that had led to a cancer misdiagnosis. If she had not looked at her records, she may have ended up having unnecessary treatments that could have actually made her sicker.

In another case, a woman recounted that her medical records reported that she had previously been pregnant on more than one occasion. The woman, in fact, had never been pregnant before.

As medical records are increasingly switched from paper to electronic form, the likelihood of errors has increased. These mistakes could cause serious harm without you ever knowing where the faulty information originated.

Having your medical records could save your life

Not only is it a good idea to look at your medical records to ensure they are accurate, but having your records with you could help you avoid other types of medical errors. Across the country, 400,000 people die annually as a result of some kind of medical mistake. Of those, approximately 80,000 people lose their lives because the physician treating them does not have the medical information about the patient that they need.

Imagine you were diagnosed with a chronic illness. Your doctor at home knows about your condition and the appropriate treatment you must receive. You go on vacation, but don't bring any medical records with you. You suffer a serious complication while out of town and the doctors and nurses are not sure how to provide proper treatment.

In such a scenario, the out-of-town doctors may end up making medical errors when treating you, often because they did not have enough information.

Talk to a personal injury attorney

When you suffer harm at the hands of a physician or other medical personnel, the expenses associated with continuing care are often significant. If you have suffered because of a medical error, consider talking to a skilled medical malpractice attorney, who will work diligently on your behalf to ensure your interests are protected.

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