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Patients urged to take control of their medical information

The human body is a complex machine that is capable of accomplishing extraordinary goals. At the same time, when things go wrong with Baltimore residents' health, it can lead to devastating results for the person.

Unfortunately, there are any number of ways in which a person's health can be negatively impacted. Last week, for example, this blog discussed how a medication error can take place when a patient is being improperly treated by a doctor, and the resulting serious injury to the patient.

Sadly, medication errors are only a small category of the types of mistakes that can result in a medical malpractice claim. Patients can be injured through surgical errors in the operating room, through a failure to diagnose a serious injury or through any other number of forms of improper medical treatment. The statistics support this as well, as studies have shown that 400,000 individuals die every year in this country because of medical errors.

Faced with these dangers, patient advocate groups urge patients to do what they can to improve their safety. For instance, with the increasing use of electronic medical records, these groups urge patients to take control of their medical information. By requesting this information and being aware of what is in their records, patients can better help to ensure their information is properly considered in the course of their care. Indeed, patient safety groups estimate that 80,000 of the 400,000 deaths referred to above are caused by doctors not having the information they need about the patient.

Of course, no matter how vigilant a patient may be, the doctor still bears a huge responsibility when treating the patient. The doctor is, after all, the trained medical professional who is supposed to have the education and experience necessary to properly care for the patient.

Accordingly, when the doctor makes errors that harm the patient, the patient should recognize it is not his or her fault. The medical malpractice lawsuit can be an effective way to place responsibility where it lies, with the doctor, both to allow the patient to recover compensation, and to prevent the doctor from making similar errors with other patients in the future.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "How to take charge of your medical records," Melinda Beck, June 29, 2015

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