In today’s medical world, doctors don’t always have the time that patients need. Technology and insurance have changed the medical landscape over the past few decades, some things for the better, and some, for the worse. To improve communication, a new trend within doctor-patient relationships has emerged. A program called Open Notes allows medical professionals to share medical notes with clients. Researchers track subsequent responses and actions from patients, studying positive and negative health-related outcomes. With nearly five million participating patients since 2010, this trend has revealed several pros and cons.
Praise for the Open Notes program has by far outweighed any criticism. Many doctors claim it has encouraged patient involvement and helped eliminate breakdowns in communication.
- Having access to your medical notes allows you to better understand your diagnosis and possible treatments. Many people welcome the chance to review meetings with physicians. Patients may need time to process information conveyed during an exam. With Open Notes, patients may be better able to understand their medical situation through optional re-reading of notes. Added knowledge and a better understanding may provide increased opportunity for incorporating treatment and beneficial health habits.
- Patients now have a written record with which to further investigate their diagnosis. With documentation, the study finds there is a better level of follow through. People take more responsibility for understanding what is happening within their bodies. They are more likely to investigate how to improve or maintain their health.
- Patients also participate in recognizing errors or spotting a doctor’s misinterpretation. This may prevent medication errors and misdiagnoses and could lead to better, faster diagnosis by ruling out symptoms and options. Take the following scenario for example: You have a sensation of pressure in your calf, with occasional swelling. Your physician reports that you have “consistent pain and swelling in your knee.” By informing the doctor of the difference between what you are experiencing and his or her interpretation, you may have ensured an accurate diagnosis.
- By providing more focused care and faster, more accurate diagnoses, medical costs are lowered. This occurs for both the individual patient and, ultimately, the entire healthcare system.
Despite the positive responses to note sharing, physicians do relay some concerns as well.
- Physicians’ exam notes include medical terminology that may be misinterpreted. A patient may then refuse his or her doctor’s prescribed treatment or choose to self-treat, based on an incorrect self-diagnosis.
- There is concern that doctors may edit their medical notes, knowing that they will be read by a “layperson.” Certain medical facts may be omitted to avoid upsetting patients who may misinterpret them.
Malman Law – Chicago Malpractice Attorneys
Your health is a serious matter. If you are concerned that a physician may have misdiagnosed you or someone you love, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney with extensive medical malpractice experience. At Malman Law, we pride ourselves on helping people get the compensation they deserve following an injury or illness. Founder Steven J. Malman has over 22 years of experience as one of Chicago’s leading authorities on personal injury law. Our legal team has represented over 20,000 successful cases in Illinois. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.