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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Downside of the Electronic Medical Record

There is a lot of discussion in the government about mandating health care providers have an electronic medical record. Well, let me tell you of one of the down sides of an electronic medical record. Once you’re misdiagnosed, that wrong diagnosis is in your damn record the rest of your life. It is easier to clear your points from the DMV than it is to get your health record corrected.

Here's what happened to me.

I went to the doctor wheezing, coughing my lungs out, and only able to nod my head to answer questions. Occasionally I could get enough air to grunt comments to those around me. I went to the doctor and he listened to my lungs, had me cough on command (which was very easy to do), and then had me use the breath meter to validate my lungs were worthless. The doctor sat down in his chair and went to the computer to enter his findings. While he typed away he told me his conclusion; "You have asthma." He pressed the enter key, turned around and looked at me with a satisfied countenance on his face.

"WHAT?", I asked. "No, I have never had asthma. This is pneumonia. I have had pneumonia several times and know the symptoms. This is pneumonia".

"I’m going to treat you for asthma," he declared. He then loaded me up with inhalers.

I left his office, only to return two days later after the inhalers failed me, saw a different doctor who gave me antibiotics and improved almost immediately.

The next year I returned to the health care system and saw a new doctor who said “I see in your medical record," as he pointed to the computer screen, "you have asthma”.

“No,” I said, “I had pneumonia. The inhalers failed and when I took the the antibiotics I got better. I do not have asthma”.

Another year or two passed and the next time I returned to the clinic, another doctor saw me and said, “I see you have a history of asthma.”

I once again related the experience and asked to “please take that asthma diagnosis off my record!”

Last time I checked, asthma is still listed in my electronic medical record. It is permanently there as a lifelong misdiagnosis.

I recognize that Doctors don’t like to contradict one another because it makes someone look bad, but then I remembered how there is no erase key in a medical record. You can't delete something in a medical record after you click enter. All misinformation will always be there and will haunt you the rest of your life.

So I’m stuck with this wrong diagnosis.

With any luck I’ll probably die of asthma...anyway, that is what my electronic medical record will say.