For the most part medical records are what they, unreadable scribblings interspersed with occasional labs that are fairly understandable and other kinds of test results that might make sense to a doctor, but are of no use to you or me. There is an area of life insurance underwriting, especially for those of us over 50 who have voluminous records, where it almost seems like what should be a good team, your doctor and your underwriter, turn adversarial.
Please understand that I don’t think all doctors are mean. Some of them definitely are, but they’re a small minority. But I do think somewhere in medical schools around the country is a hidden curriculum, a class so confidential that it is probably hidden in the basement of some abandoned building. It is there that the hook up the potential doctors to be to a high voltage incentive device and teach them what needs to go in medical records to keep them from being sued. For those doctors reading this, the ones with the little scars on the ears from the device, you know what the answer is. EVERYTHING A PATIENT SAYS SHOULD GO IN THE MEDICAL RECORDS EVEN IF YOU ARE SURE THEY MUST BE KIDDING!
That didn’t used to be true. Back before everyone was sued for everything in our country doctors used to just write down what was relevant to the problem. Let me give you an example from my own life. About 25 years ago the town I lived in was hit with multiple flu virus cold scurvy bugs one winter. You would no sooner start feeling better from one set of symptoms than another would take over and wreck your everyday life. After about a month of this I went to the doctor, a good friend of mine, and when he walked in and said, “So, what’s going on?”, I answered that I was pretty sure that I had AIDS because my immune system was so shot that I couldn’t seem to ever recover from one thing before I got another. He answered that I must have caught it from his wife because she had all the same symptoms. Of course we were both kidding and those remarks didn’t go in the records, but if that happened today….
“Patient presents himself today concerned that he has AIDS. He has been through several weeks of multiple and recurring illnesses that do concur with his immune system being compromised. I have given him a lab ticket to have blood drawn to be tested for AIDS”. A doctor today would never have joked about his wife because he knows that would have to go in the records also.
So, where am I going with this? Underwriters generally review your medical records as part of the process unless you are just young and disgustingly healthy. Once they have gone through your medical records they now know more about the content than 99.9% of patients. Am I lying? When’s the last time you read through your medical records, even just the last few years worth?
We are always getting advice that we should review our credit report at least once a year because no telling what could end up on there that is wrong. But credit reports pale in comparison to medical records. There are errors. There are things in there that you really didn’t mean seriously. There are other people’s records in most people’s records. And you don’t find out until you get declined for life insurance because in your medical records it says that you think you have AIDS.
Bottom line. I’m not saying you shouldn’t check your credit report, but I am saying that over the years I’ve found more errors in my medical records than my credit report. And I talk to clients almost daily that are shocked by something that was in their records. Take the time and do it. If you have any questions about information in your medical records or how to get it corrected, call or email me directly. My name is Ed Hinerman. Let’s talk