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I don’t use this commentary to air personal issues, but something happened recently that I must tell you about.
I was diagnosed with a fatal disease.
It was shocking, frightening and it could happen to you. In fact, if my experience is any measure, it will.
It started innocently when I went to the doctor with a question about a minor issue.
This was the office of an internist who has cared for me for over 15 years.
When I arrived, I was asked to fill out an information sheet about my medical history, along with the basic personal information.
I was told that since Dr. X had recently moved his office, this was a means of updating his files, but it was also required under Obamacare.
I admit, I was irritated.
But there was something new on the questionnaire: I was asked if I would like to receive a summary report of that day’s office visit.
I liked that. It sounded like a good way to keep track of my medical history.
So I checked, “Yes.”
Sure enough, after my appointment, the receptionist gave me the summary sheet. I glanced at it quickly and went home.
Later, when I sat down to check the report, I got the shock of my life.
The sheet noted my name, date, my date of birth and the reason for that day’s appointment. It also noted that I have no known allergies and take no medications.
The next item was titled “Active Problems,” and the three entries gave me the shock of my life.
Doctor X had on my file that I suffer from coronary artery disease, hypertension and – prostate cancer.
I know that as a woman I expect to undergo a “change of life,” but never for the life of me did I expect it to be that drastic a change!
I also know my body parts don’t include a prostate – much less one that’s cancerous.
But even worse, I also know that I do not have Coronary Artery Disease and I do not suffer from hypertension.
I couldn’t believe my eyes, especially since the item before this noted I was taking no medications. How could I be suffering from those three conditions and yet not be getting any treatment for them?
In fact, that whole entry on my medical record was totally incorrect.
Even worse, as I read through the rest of the form where it listed my medical history and that of my parents and grandparents, I discovered that most of that was filled with errors.
What was going on? How could all this incorrect information about me be entered into the computer? Who did it? Why wasn’t it noticed? How could that receptionist give me the “summary” and not see there was something curious about it?
I immediately called Dr. X and laid out in no uncertain terms what I’d found and that I was more than upset.
He wasted no time getting back to me with profuse apologies. We later spoke in person. He said his practice had recently switched to a computer system – as required by the government – and that a program glitch caused the results of another person to be entered into my file.
That may have been the “reason,” but it clearly illustrated how dangerous the “computerized system” is. Who knows how many other records have been switched? If the patient doesn’t get a treatment summary as I did, they might never know until problems occur.
Had I not caught those egregious errors, that information would have become part of “my record” and perhaps never caught for years and in the meantime would invalidate my medical records, treatments and insurance coverage. A person with those problems would not be a good risk.
Dr. X said his records were corrected, but within the next couple of months, I encountered similar computer problems at other medical offices.
In one, a doctor was reviewing my record to me and in the midst of it, actually said out loud, “Oh, that’s not your record. My girls entered the wrong information.”
In another instance, talking with the billing department, the woman could not find “me” in the computer and finally figured out that there were two “Barbara Simpsons,” but both of us were her. There was no “me.”
As far as their records were concerned, I didn’t exist anymore!
Without going into any further details, I had several other similar experiences of “computer glitches” when dealing with medical or prescription issues, and I’m healthy with no chronic or other diseases.
Just think of the chaos that will be caused for people with real health problems when a computer programming glitch or the person entering the information makes just a little, teeny, smidgen of a mistake?
For that person, it’s no problem.
For the patient, it could be catastrophic.
When my mother was hospitalized, the hospital was converting to entirely online medical records. No more paper. There was to be a laptop at each bed; nurses, doctors and others would enter their diagnoses and treatments into the machine.
Supposedly, this would solve all the problems of medical errors – except for one thing: The entries would be made by a whole variety of people of differing specialties, intelligence and abilities.
Not to cast aspersions on medical personnel, but only an idiot would say everyone is as capable as every other.
It would take pages to recount the errors in the treatment of my mother and father. How many others are happening every day across the country?
As Obamacare forces online medical records, we’ve yet to see the damage they’ll cause because once data is in the computer, it’s virtually impossible to remove.