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Examining Doctor Notes May Prevent Medical Error

The Washington Post reported on a new study is about to begin which will test the value of patient review of doctor notes. The new project will give a limited number of patients electronic copies of their medical chart and the handwritten notes made by their doctor following each visit. The goal of the study is to determine if patients actually look closely at this information and to understand how it may affect the quality of care.

The most novel component of this “OpenNotes” project is the fact that for the first time ever it will allow many patients access to their doctor’s handwritten notes, which often indicate the medical professionals’ thought process as he or she considers various different diagnoses.

One potential benefit of the note sharing may be that it helps limit doctor error. In one case where the notes were already being shared, the patient noticed that tests that the doctor told her should be ordered were in fact not listed in the notes. It turned out that she was correct and the doctor had failed to order the appropriate procedures. The patients’ diligent review of her doctor’s material had potentially saved a preventable medical mistake.

With so much upside, it’s a wonder why more patients had not already reviewed their doctor’s notes. After all, all states give patients a legal right to obtain access to their own medical records. However, researchers indicate that most patients have never been aware of their ability to look at the notes and, even if they were, hospitals often charge as much as 75 cents for each page of record. The easy, free, and immediate access to the records which will be given in this study is intended to bridge those barriers.

Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti understand the close eye all patients should give to the medical care that they are provided. We have represented dozens of clients who were left in the dark about the care provided by their negligent doctors, leaving them little options to ask more probing questions about the care they were being given. Each patient should scrutinize their medical care and be sure to seek representation when that care has fallen below the standard to which they are entitled.

Please Click Here to read more about the “OpenNotes” study.