Healthy Living

How to fix errors in your medical records

Federal law guarantees access for patients to review their medical records

Adobe stock image
Adobe stock image

When was the last time you read the discharge paperwork you received after a visit to your doctor’s office or the hospital?

Chances are, you filed it with other paperwork, or worse, you took it home and threw it away.

It pays to read what you’re given. You just might find an error that needs correcting.

Nearly one in 10 people who access their medical records online request a correction, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

In a worst-case scenario, an incorrect diagnosis, scan or lab result inserted into a medical record could lead to an inappropriate medical evaluation

or treatment.

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine researchers. Each

year, approximately 250,000 patients in the United States die from such errors.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) ensures that your medical records are private. The same law also guarantees your right to review your medical record and bring errors to the attention of your doctor or hospital.

If you want to review your medical record, start by checking your health care provider or hospital’s website patient information portal.

If you think you have discovered an error in your records, you have the right to ask for a correction. Ask your doctor or hospital if they have a form — either a paper or electronic version — you should use to submit a requested change.

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Physicians and hospitals are required to respond in writing to your feedback within 60 days, with the possibility of a 30-day extension.

Medical providers are not obligated to accept your request. If your feedback is rejected, you have the right to add a statement contesting this decision to your medical record.

You may have to pay a fee, but according to your federal rights, a doctor or hospital may only charge a reasonable fee to you to receive a paper copy

or electronic media copy (CD or USB drive) of your medical record. You also may need to pay a reasonable fee for mailing the paper or electronic copy of

your medical record.

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