Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

20 posts / 0 new
Last post
KathyP
Offline
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 04/28/2006 - 7:33am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

In researching the viability of my current employment choice, I'm finding that a lot of us medical transcriptionists here in the USA are losing our jobs to India and Pakistan. I came across a lawsuit by the Veteran's Administration against an American transcription company (MedQuist) who shipped off sensitive medical information on military personnel to be typed up overseas. They say the practice of outsourcing VA medical records for transcribing has been stopped since, but it's only because THEY were caught.

I found it especially interesting that many, many physicians or hospitals have no idea, or really care, where their dictation is ending up to be transcribed, just that the bottom line is that it is begin typed up and cheaply. It seems that when a transcription company is hired to do the work, they seem to fall back on the old "don't ask, don't tell" bit. If the customer were to ask, "Is this work being typed up here in America?" The company would have to answer yes or no. If they fail to ask, or don't know to ask, it certainly isn't being offered up.

The quality of the transcription overseas is third rate, to say the least. Thus the new job niche for us American transcriptionists is to re-listen to the doctor's audio, then re-proof read what the third-world country typed up, and fix their errors before sending it back. Major errors, some posing possible risk to patient's health, are being found ([i]sometimes[/i]) but it doesn't matter, because the bottom line is this route is still cheaper.

Very few medical records are kept via hand writing anymore due to HIPAA laws and what not, so chances are your medical information is not between only you and your doctor any more. Feel free to ask your physician if he/she knows exactly how your medical records are being handled, but don't be surprised if you can't get a straight answer.

Edited to add: Also, many times a patient's personal information i.e. DOB, address, and employment info may be included in medical documents, so it's not only an issue of health care privacy.

Taxpayer
Offline
Last seen: 5 years 7 months ago
Joined: 09/08/2005 - 12:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

Unfortunately many medical words sound very similiar. This presents an unrealistic challenge to someone who doesn't speak English as a primary language.

I'm sure someone has done a cost-benefit analysis of the risks though - the cost of maintaining quality transcriptionists is dwarfed by the added risk of medical error due to error in transcription.

That's what it all boils down to everywhere - cost benefit analysis and ROI (return on investment).

LMD
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: 02/24/2003 - 1:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

KathyP,
Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

I've heard that everyone should request copies of their medical records (on occasion) to examine them for errors, etc. Would you also make this suggestion given your knowledge and experience?

You wrote:
[quote]Major errors, some posing possible risk to patient's health, are being found (sometimes) but it doesn't matter, because the bottom line is this route is still cheaper.[/quote]

Last year I requested my father's medical records (complete) from a specific two year period (severa hundred pages).
Upon review I was shocked to find two [i]very significant errors [/i], which as you said posed possible risk to my father's health. Actually to be frank, one of them could have caused his death as it related to his AICD).
I also found several less significant errors, minor in comparison but would have caused some problems had I not found them.
I called the hospital, the doctors, etc. involved and it was like petitioning the govenment to get the changes put in place.

KathyP
Offline
Last seen: 5 years 10 months ago
Joined: 04/28/2006 - 7:33am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

LMD, I'm sorry to hear about your father's story as well, my condolances. I would most certainly recommend people get copies of their medical records and keep things up to date. We have to be our own watchdogs these days with everything, including our own medical treatment, and that's a drag to say the least...especially when we pay a premium for these services, and put our trust in people who are supposed to be qualified in rendering that care and every aspect that goes along with it. I think if more people vocalize on these gross discrepancies, your father's records being a prime example, sooner or later the powers at be are going to have to do something about it.

Also, what really frosts my patootie is when we do request our records, which are technically our property, we are sometimes charged exorbitant fees for obtaining them, even though the cost of that should be factored into the visits themselves.

LMD
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 6 months ago
Joined: 02/24/2003 - 1:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

Thanks Kathy, I hope everyone heeds your sound advice!

I second your "frost the patootie" sentiment about institutions charging "exorbitant fees for obtaining them". It cost me a rather large chunk o'change to get those records. And I really needed to get them from two other hospitals from that time period, but just couldn't afford to do it.

Therein lies one of the problems I noticed. When someone is transfered from one hospital to another (for further treatment let's say) oftentimes it seems only a "face sheet" of information goes with the patient. That's where I found a few errors to have occured - the transfer or LACK of, or mistakes from one place to the next.

But back to the "frosting patootie" problem....I was really annoyed at the nursing home in which my father resides when I asked for a complete copy of his records (another request than the one i talked about before). They dragged their feet, which they are not supposed to do BY LAW. Then they kept reminding me that "we only charge 5 cents a page, you know. Not like OTHER places" blah blah blah.

Wow, how mighty white of you folks to only charge a nickel a page when you're charging over 7K a month for the rest of the crappy service you give! :evil: :roll:

And of course they balked on giving me his COMPLETE records. Nice try, those SOBs....And of course they didn't include their version of 'Incident reports" which they keep in a seperate notebook for their eyes only...."Not part of his records!!" they claim.

Anyway...I digress....for good reason.

People should LISTEN to you and get their records!!!

Naran
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

LMD and Kathy - good advice, and thanks for sharing all of it.

Your father is very fortunate to have you on his side, LMD. I too, would be outraged at the staff dragging their feet on your requests. It's not like we're dealing with the payment history on the danged light bill, here. To hell with their "inconvenience" factor. It matters not.

lucky
Offline
Last seen: 8 hours 42 min ago
Joined: 01/17/2004 - 1:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

Just an FYI - for some reason hospitals and offices don't normally charge to send medical records directly to another facility, maybe because the records can be transmitted electronically rather than hard copied; maybe you could request that they go directly there and examine them once they arrive.

I am surprised to hear about nothing more than a face sheet being sent with the patient, unless the patient is transferred to another facility for just one particular diagnostic test, such as xray, and then going back to the original facility.

I worked at an office during a time when it switched from paper charts to electronic. The electronic charts were so much easier to work with and there were fewer errors due to misreading of the docs' handwriting. Scrips were electronic too, which cut down on calls from pharmacies asking for clarifications. Also, the providers had the entire record from every encounter at the hospital with which the office was affiliated since the hospital was also entering everything electronically.

lucky
Offline
Last seen: 8 hours 42 min ago
Joined: 01/17/2004 - 1:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

One other thing - In the United States, the data contained within the medical record belongs to the patient, whereas the physical form the data takes belongs to the entity responsible for maintaining the record. It's been that way for many years.

Naran
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

[quote][b]System eyed to share patient data[/b]
By Meg Haskell
Tuesday, February 27, 2007 - Bangor Daily News

AUGUSTA - An electronic patient information system connecting health care providers across the state could become a reality by the end of this year, according to the nonprofit group developing the idea. All that’s missing is the funding.

Dr. David Howes, who serves on the board of HealthInfoNet, told state lawmakers last week it will cost about $6 million to implement a two-year demonstration project that connects Maine’s largest hospital systems, a few private medical practices and at least one clinical laboratory. [/quote]

[url=http://bangordailynews.com/news/t/news.aspx?articleid=146848&zoneid=5]Wh...

Kennebec
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 26 min ago
Joined: 12/24/2003 - 1:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

The system that HealthInfoNet envisions would be a boon to physicians caring for patients and would enhance patient safety by great margins. My difficulty with this is having taxpayers foot part of the start-up costs when the insurance companies are the ones that will save money.

Naran
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

Amen. Let the insurance companies pay for it, not the already overburdened taxpayers.

Naran
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

[quote][b]Maine patient records to go online[/b]
[i]A state contribution moves HealthInfoNet closer to starting its pilot project next year.[/i]

By JOSIE HUANG
Staff Writer
June 9, 2007

State lawmakers have breathed life back into a project to make Maine one of the first states to put patients' records online so doctors can provide better care from anywhere in the state and avoid medical errors that lead to hospitalization or death.

After three difficult years of fundraising, HealthInfoNet received enough money from the Legislature this week for it to match a $1 million grant and bring the total amount raised to $2.8 million. [/quote]

[url=http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=112278&ac=PHnws]Let us Hope and Pray that CNSI is Not the Computer Programmer for This One[/url]

Kennebec
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 26 min ago
Joined: 12/24/2003 - 1:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

HealthInfoNet is being led by Dev Culver. Prior to being named the Executive Director of HealthInfoNet he was one of the most respected Chief Information Officers in the State, serving as CIO for Eastern Maine Health. No CNSI in this deal thank goodness. Again, it is too bad that tax payers are footing the bill, if this system really works it has the potential to lower healthcare costs and improve patient care. The website for the project is [url=http://www.hinfonet.org/]here[/url].

Robert
Offline
Last seen: 6 years 6 months ago
Joined: 04/01/2005 - 1:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

[quote]State lawmakers have breathed life back into a project to make Maine one of the first states to put patients' records online [/quote]

Am I the only one who is tired of being the first to do things?

Editor
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 10 months ago
Joined: 04/18/2009 - 3:43pm
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

Kennebec, thank you for the link. This paragraph from the web site answers my prime question about this project:

[i]HealthInfoNet, an independent nonprofit organization is expected to be one of the nation’s first statewide electronic information-sharing system giving authorized health care professionals and treatment centers immediate, secure access to a patient’s health records. Once the system is in place, with patients’ consent, health providers will be able to instantly access critical information. The system will include rigorous protections to ensure the highest level of patient privacy and overall security.[/i]

The "expected to be" modifier isn't a confidence booster, but web access to medical records is a good idea.

I'm betting the State of Maine's kicking in tax dollars for this project is a way for the state to draw down money from the feds.

skf

Kennebec
Offline
Last seen: 12 hours 26 min ago
Joined: 12/24/2003 - 1:01am
Are your medical records safe? Don't bet on it.

There are multiple projects similar to this one going on all around the country, Google the term RHIO to learn much, much more. RHIO stands for Regional Health Information Organization. What is setting this project apart at the moment is that it is attempting to be a statewide initiative rather than a regional one. While somewhat ground breaking, there are a number of projects that are well ahead of this one but not at a state level. Taconic River Valley in New York comes to mind immediately as one where lessons learned have been applied to the Maine project. There is a write up for [url=http://ccbh.ehealthinitiative.org/Awardee_Taconic.mspx]Taconic here[/url].

The State funds, by the way, allowed the project to complete a matching grant, the origin of the grant eludes me at the moment. I think it was MeHAF that supplied the matching grant two years ago but I am not positive about that.

Steven Scharf
Offline
Last seen: 7 years 3 months ago
Joined: 01/28/2002 - 1:01am
Portland Press Herald April

Portland Press Herald
April 7, 2010
8:21 AM
[b]HealthInfoNet to receive federal money[/b]
The Associated Press

AUGUSTA — A Maine-based service that gives doctors quick access to electronic data to treat their patients is receiving $4.7 million in federal stimulus money.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says that HealthInfoNet of Manchester is one of 28 nonprofit organizations to establish health information technology centers receiving Recovery Act funding.

The government hopes there will be an electronic health record of every person by 2014.

HealthInfoNet went online last July.

. . .

http://www.pressherald.com/news/HealthInfoNet-to-receive-federal-money.html

Steven Scharf
SCSMedia@aol.com

thistle
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: 08/15/2009 - 9:46am
Saturday, March 17,

Saturday, March 17, 2012
Maine HIT Strategy to Share Info

Recently...Maine and HealthInfoNet received a $600,000 contract to help support electronic sharing of health records among [Maine] behavioral health providers.., general medical providers.... ...HealthInfoNet will build the technical infrastructure...to facilitate secure EHR sharing.., includ[ing] connecting behavioral health providers to the statewide HIE.., developing a secure provider only email service.

The contract funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, HRSA, and Center for Integrated Health Solutions.

http://telemedicinenews.blogspot.com/2012/03/maine-hit-strategy-to-share...

Editor
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 10 months ago
Joined: 04/18/2009 - 3:43pm
Maine announces nation's

Maine announces nation's first statewide medical image archive
The archive, which can hold 1.8 million images a year, will allow physicians throughout the state to share patients' medical images
By Lucas Mearian
May 31, 2012 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Maine's health information exchange (HIE) today announced it is piloting what is said to be the nation's first statewide medical imaging archive, giving physicians access to patient X-rays, MRIs, mammograms, and other images regardless of their location.

The new medical imagery archive will be hosted on a separate public cloud infrastructure, provided by Dell.

Todd Rogow, director of information technology at Maine's HealthInfoNet, said the five-month pilot will involve about 200TB of storage.

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9227589/Maine_announces_nation_s_...

Cigarsmoker
Offline
Last seen: 4 years 11 months ago
Joined: 03/17/2004 - 1:01am
Does everyone know that

Does everyone know that healthinfonet is gathering this info without your consent? You have to opt out if you do not want your personal health and demographic information being shared across healthcare providers.

Log in to post comments