October 10, 2010

Another medical records rant

I’ve previously ranted about the medical information problems in connection with my father’s care at Friendship Village of Dublin and Riverside Methodist Hospital (among others). Well, they’re getting worse.

The medical background is:

When Riverside Methodist Hospital got around to talking with me Saturday morning:

More information would have to come from a doctor, who would call that afternoon.

I detected no such call. 8:45 Sunday morning, I was told such a call had been placed, but no message had been left due to HIPAA, and a call would come later on Sunday. I finally called back after 4 pm, only to be told that all the doctors were busy, and there was no point in my talking with a doctor anyway since s/he wouldn’t know anything; I should wait until Monday. A subsequent escalation uncovered that the doctor simply “forgot” to call me, while I waited all day missing food and sleep.

By the way, Riverside Methodist Hospital had a similar error in my father’s medical records pertaining to a different body part. His nurse told me he had a wound in his hand that she judged to be based on a deep cut whose origin she did not know. Well, right before his first discharge from Riverside Methodist Hospital they themselves did a procedure on his hand, giving me an awfully good guess as to what the origin might be.

Admittedly, I have no reason to think that Riverside Methodist Hospital is worse than any other hospital in these respects. (And indeed when I complain long enough somebody eventually has a helpful conversation with me — for example, while drafting this post I got a call explaining what the unknown procedure was.) But the whole thing is pretty pathetic — and yet pretty inevitable given the cumbersome medical information procedures we now have in place. And so, this mess again illustrates that great changes are needed in how medical information is managed.

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One Response to “Another medical records rant”

  1. Ajay on October 11th, 2010 2:43 pm

    Hi Curt,

    I have aging parents too and well all I can say is hang in there. Medical record information should ideally be digitized and given the mobile nature of doctors- umm maybe there could be an Iphone app for downloading information (subject to privacy guidelines of course). Also it seems event logging for medical records is weaker than event logging for say databases- and I speak as someone whose mom had a brain internal braining op two years ago. Doctors and nurses change shifts, and some info seems lost in noting down.

    Digitization and faster retrieval are solutions but in long term. As of now,
    I shall remember your father in my daily prayers.



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