Doctor’s orders: watch medical records closely

Justin Schmithorst, Staff Writer

Room 138 in Blackington Hall was almost entirely full Tuesday evening prior to a lecture and PowerPoint presentation on inaccurate medical records and how patients can help acquire accuracy.

Cameras and audio equipment were used to record the event.   

Dr. Michael J. Warner, president of Patient Advocacy Initiatives told audience members that patients need become their own advocate to ensure that records are correct.

“Diagnostic errors and diagnostic process account for 10 percent of patient deaths.”

Medical records are important in diagnosis.

Warner said that the main catalyst for records’ problem is that the medical field is in a transition from hard copy to digital copies, and information gets caught in the crosshairs.

Doctors sometimes make a hasty diagnosis that ends up getting promoted. They appear to be fast and efficient, though, in truth, diagnosis is riddled with errors and malpractice, Warner said.

Warner said communication between patients and doctors is important and said patients have  the right to access their medical records, and change them if need be.

Afterward, Warner said his presentation’s goal was to empower all of us to be our own advocate. This means reading your health record to assure accuracy and to contribute information to help understand your medical problems.

The presentation was part of a partnership of Warner and Susan Wieczorek, a Pitt-Johnstown communications professors.

Wieczorek researched technology and online interaction among patients and doctors from a pool of 60,000 messages.

As president of Patient Advocacy Initiatives, Warner delivered the message to students that communication between patients and doctors is essential.

On the Patient Advocacy Initiative’s website too, there are three goals listed: to inform patients that they are to be able to view medical records both prior and after, a medical encounter, and they are able to co-author their medical records.