Medical Record Errors

Because I am an engaged patient, I find errors in my medical records fairly often. Usually, they are minor issues and I wonder if it is worth raising it to the doctor because it probably won’t make a difference in the long run. For example, I have seen that they marked me as male in a note or it mentioned my pain was in my lower back instead of my upper back.

Other issues, however, are more significant. Several years ago, a doctor accidentally marked Diabetes on an MRI order form, and somehow that added the problem to my health condition list. When that specialist sent the notes to my primary doctor and my rheumatologist, then they added Diabetes to my health conditions and suddenly people were asking me what my glucose levels were. They seemed very concerned when I told them I had no idea!

My most recent example was both shocking, and the response I received was a troubling reminder of how the healthcare system sees patient input. First, for those who don’t know me, I am 19 years old and in college. I have never been pregnant, and I have no children.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I saw this in my medical record…

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You can imagine that I was not pleased to see that, especially since it had already been sent to two other doctors. Who knew that I had a child at 13? Apparently that imaginary child didn’t survive though, but somehow imaginary pregnancy 2 was able to survive.

I understand that mistakes happen, and it is very easy for the doctor to accidentally mix up two patients or accidentally click the wrong options in their very, very click-intensive EMR. However, I was not pleased with the response when I had my health assistant at CareSync try to get the record corrected for me.

The office staff said that “the patient must have told us that if it is in the record.”

They also would not take my health assistant’s correction, despite the fact that the history was only incorrect in one visit and in the month prior it said I had zero pregnancies and zero children.

In order for me to get it corrected, I had to submit the request in writing. They then also called me to confirm. 14 days later, I received a corrected copy in the mail – despite me asking in the written form if they could email it to me (and acknowledged that it is not secure).

How do we reduce the chance for errors in EMR systems? Simple documentation errors can cause major medical errors when someone else reviews the documentation as a source of truth (often believing that over what the patient says because “it must have been so because it was documented in the EMR)

How do we make it easier to get errors corrected? I wonder how many patients even know that they can get errors corrected.

Have you had experiences with errors? I would love to hear your stories.

Lab Draws at the Hospital

Do lab draws really need to be done so early? My mom was in the hospital last week, and the guy came to draw her blood at 6am each day. The first few days, the guy would knock once and then turn on the full lights in the room. I mean bright lights. One day, my mom was startled when the lights came on and said “turn out the lights.” The guy said something like “I think you want me to be able to see when I stick a needle in your arm.” A new guy came the last few days and he was much nicer about the lights. He turned them on but he tried to give my mom warning first. My mom was talking to him about how early it is, and he said that he starts at 4am waking people up to get labs. He said that it is his least favorite part of his job. He likes the rest but he doesn’t like waking people up.

He said that he has to come so early because some doctors want the results by 7am rounds. But, my mom’s doctor never came in before 3pm each day. He wasn’t reviewing the results until he came in the room either because he looked them up in the room.

So, my question is, could there be a different way? Is it necessary? Could only the critical ones be done so early? Or maybe only the ones who have a doctor who comes early? Any other ideas?

Food at the Hospital


My mom was in the hospital last week, and I was really surprised by the way that they served food to her. At my hospital, they let me pick what I want to eat and when I want to eat it. I think the hours are 6 in the morning until 11pm. I don’t feel well a lot of the time that I am there, so it is really nice that they let me order what sounds good to me at that moment and to order when I feel like eating. 

My mom had food delivered at 7am, 11:30am, and 5:30pm. Seriously, who eats dinner at 5:30 at night? And I would miss almost every meal if they brought it to me at 7 and lunch at 11:30. When I don’t feel well, i try to sleep as much as possible and don’t want to eat in the morning. 

My mom could ask for things like pudding, jello, and chicken broth from her nurses. She wasn’t really able to eat much when she was there anyway, but I couldn’t help thinking about the people who are hungry and don’t have the choice. Also, when the did ask what she wanted, they asked her the day before. When you are sick, how do you know what you will feel like eating the next day?

As you know, I think sleep is really important to getting well. I also think eating is important to getting well. My mom posted about this on twitter and it seems some other places are like my hospital but that a lot are still like this one.

What are your experiences? Do you think it is important to let the patient say when and what they eat?

Why does everything beep?

Another annoying thing in the hospital is the beeping. Why does the IV pump need to beep loudly in my ear when the nurse is the only one who can fix it? Doesn’t it make more sense for it to beep next to the person who can do something about it? It is especially annoying when I have a headache (which is after each of my treatments). With all of the technology today, surely there is the ability to make it quiet in my room but loud by the nurse?

Also, the nurse call buttons are getting fancier, but it appears that the hospitals aren’t really ready to handle them. For example, the pain button on the remote. It doesn’t do anything different than the Nurse button. If I push the pain button, shouldn’t the person answering know I am asking for something for pain?

And seriously, why does it call a person sitting at a desk who then needs to find the nurse? Can it not page the nurse and then she could pass it to someone else if needed? It is not only annoying to have to tell my problems to the speaker, but I also never know who is listening near the desk on the other end. And, to top it off, they sometimes turn off the light before my nurse comes so I am left waiting when nobody is coming (this is pretty rare as they really do try to come quickly, but it is always a concern because you don’t know if it is working).

Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive after my first video. I will keep making videos about good and frustrating experiences in healthcare. Please comment if you have ideas for a post! Also, I am at home now. I recorded this video during my recent hospital stay for meningitis, but I am recovering at home now.

I am a patient and I need to be heard

After four nights in the hospital, I made this video expressing my frustration over the lack of sleep you get while admitted. I also talk about the importance of listening to the patients wants and needs. Have you had a similar experience that needs to be solved?

E-patient Dave wrote an article about my video on

It has gotten quite a bit of attention:)