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Take A Look At Your Own Medical Chart

An editorial for Salem News last week offered an extended recommendation to readers on the importance of patients taking an active role in their care. The author explained that, while most doctors work hard to provide the best care possible to patients, the public remains woefully uninformed about the total number of preventable medical mistakes that occur each and every day. The Illinois medical malpractice lawyers at our firm echo the wise thoughts shared in the piece-an active patient can often mean the different between life and death.

The author explained that it is important to step back from the claims made by those in the medical community which seeks to minimize the total number of deaths caused by inadequate care. This is particularly true when it comes to the claims made about medical malpractice lawsuits causing doctors to leave town, go out of business, and the like. In fact, as any medical malpractice attorney can explain, doctors work primarily in business groups. These groups have insurance companies with unlimited attorney funds to defend the doctors. Even then, when a case actually does go to trial, more often than not the jury sides with the doctor. Many suspect that this is influenced by the fact that society maintains much admiration for doctors-as they should.

But the admiration often clouds the public perception about the very real problem of medical errors and lazy care. This often allows doctors to put up “protective walls” between themselves and their patients. For this reason it is incredibly important for patients to take an active role in their care-for example, by demanding to see information in their own medical chart. After a recent trip to the doctor the author of this editorial did just that. He was amazed to find that the doctor had written things which were simply not true. For example, his chart including lists of things that the patient “denied,’ such as weakness, numbness, urgency, and others. However the doctor had not actual asked the man about any of these things. Apparently the doctor made those judgments simply because the man had put “back pain” on his in-take form when asked what brought him there.

Eventually the author went to a different medical clinic to see if something could be done for his back, on which he had had previous injuries and surgeries. He explained that the doctor eventually came into his room, looked at this charts for a few minutes, said that he could not help the man, and then walked out of the room. Surprised by the bizarre behavior, the man asked for a copy of his records. What he found was that the doctor had written that he had performed a series of tests all of which were normal-even though he never so much as touched the man or asked him to do anything. For this brief ten minute meeting Medicare was charged $300.

Of course, in any subsequent legal action that might take place down the road if the doctor makes a mistake, these forms will likely be used. If the doctor fails to make an appropriate diagnosis that he should have made, the professional will likely use these “denials” or test results as part of his or her defense. These are issues that medical malpractice attorneys deal with each and every day.

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