Posted on Aug 29, 2014


Image courtesy of Google Images

Imagine going to your to see your doctor and being able to take an active part in the note taking process. Wouldn't that be nice? Recently we came across an article on NPR where a doctor discussed the benefits and the drawbacks of doing such a thing.

In the article the doctor talks about a time when the patient asked her if she could see what was being typed. The doctor sat down next to the patient and let her look at what was being written. Immediately the patient saw some areas that needed to be changed.  With this simple act - showing the patient the medical note and getting her input, the doctor was able to better understand her symptoms and make a diagnosis.

Doctors are supposed to communicate with each other through these notes, so why not share them with the patients?

In 2010, Tom Delbanco and Jan Walker conducted an experiment called OpenNotes which allowed the patients access to their doctors notes. Delbanco and Walker thought that if the patients had access to their notes, they would "become more engaged in their care". 

Of course there are doctors who opposed this idea, and some said it would only cause more lawsuits if the patients were to "misunderstand" the doctors notes. (Obviously, those doctors didn't want their patients seeing their mistakes). But according to the data from the first year of OpenNotes, "80 percent of patients who saw records reported better understanding of their medical condition and said they were in control of their health".

The doctor in this article indicated that once she started sharing notes with all of her patients, the communication between them improved because they were working together.

Getting actively involved in your health care and doctor visits lets you be in control and is one step to try to avoid medical negligence. We wrote about this in our guide, 7 Symptoms of Medical Malpractice: How Every Patient Can Recognize, Stop and Avoid Medical Mistakes. If the doctor is not listening to you during your appointment, they are not getting all the available information. And if they're not listening to you, then they are more than likely making assumptions about your situation. Not knowing the patient's history or full extent of the patient's situation can result in a misdiagnosis, prescribing contraindicated medication, the wrong treatment and other mistakes.

For many of our clients, this is a reality. Doctors not evaluating the patients, not communicating with the patient or other doctors can lead to the patient getting harmed in the process. If you have questions about medical malpractice in D.C., Virginia or Maryland, call us today.  We schedule a limitied period of time every week to take questions and talk about patient safety rules and medical malpractice. Your call is free and confidential, but don't wait. We have to limit the time we offer this

Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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