Did you know most medical records contain mistakes? [Wall Street Journal, June 2014] They’re not always life-threatening, but sometimes they are. When my mother had a hip replacement and was discharged to rehab, her thyroid diagnosis was transcribed wrong, so the best doctor in the world could have prescribed a medicine that did real harm! But I have empowered sisters and they asked to see the chart … and the provider welcomed their engagement. The mistake was corrected and the harm was prevented, at no cost to anyone. Go thou and do likewise!
Better follow-up through Open Notes:
On a much simpler level, my hospital has enabled Open Notes – a simple software change that lets me see every word they’ve written about me. After one routine appointment, I logged in from home to remind myself of what they’d told me to do. I was a better patient without bothering the office.
In all three cases you can see how, as Francis Bacon famously said, “Knowledge is power.” Dr. Sands often cites that in his speeches.
Yet many providers still prefer to keep a distance between the ultimate stakeholder – the patient - and medical knowledge. If healthcare is going to achieve its potential, we must all operate at our potential, and it follows that to keep people from information is to disempower them.