Errors by Ted Bacharach MD (retired)


Mistakes are a fact of life. We would all like to think we do not make them but unfortunately this is not possible. Your medical records, if you don’t know, are not immune from these mistakes. In the past, many of these records were not accessible to everyone. At the present time, with the way electronic records are being utilized, it has become quite easy for doctors or staff to “clip and paste” the same mistakes over and over again.   This locks in those errors, which then seem impossible to correct. In the case of my wife, it was interesting to see this happening. Thirty years ago a physician treating her erroneously stated that she had had a hysterectomy. Although this was an error it was maintained and reproduced on almost all her records after that.

Unfortunately,  medical record mistakes can follow a person’s medical record for life. I would like to think this is a minor problem but it can result in major errors in the future. The advent of electronic medical records has made this issue that much easier and more commonplace.  What people might not know is that many diagnoses make it harder or more expensive to get health insurance and it is almost impossible to correct.
The increasing growth of the EMR in our future will only result in the perpetuation of these errors because right now there is no easy way for patients to fix them.  This needs to change.  Doctors need to stop taking the easy way out and do their own history and physical and ask the patient if the information is correct or not.   Patients need access to their charts so they can help stop any errors that slip through before the cycle starts in the first place.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  4 comments for “Errors by Ted Bacharach MD (retired)

  1. Susan Bailey
    May 1, 2013 at 11:57 am

    As a social work discharge planner, I once had a patient with NASH. His H&P stated that he had a significant ETOH history, and 3 subsequent consults repeated this information. Having done the requisite research on NASH, I asked the patient about this; he stated that he had never used alcohol and was in process of being cleared for a liver transplant. I warned him of the information in his chart, and entered my own note (not that any MD has ever read a SW’er’s note) concerning the error. Surprisingly, I did not lose my job over this, and — more surprisingly — this occurred in the days before we had hospitalists.

  2. Kathy Wire
    May 1, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Hear, hear. As a risk manager I have to do excavations on data in charts, and it’s amazing how a thought (not even a fully stated differential diagnosis) can get picked up and become a painful reality for the patient years later.

  3. bdm
    May 1, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Patients don’t like it if I ask them these questions and just say something snarky like “it’s in the computer”. Later when they ask for pain medication and I tell them that several are listed in the computer, suddenly they want to go over the medications and deny everything.

  4. Diane Stone
    April 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Do you really think a new patient will admit to past documented problems like drug addition, alcohol abuse, etc.?

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