Guess what? It is almost impossible to fix a mistake in our own medical records!
Why? For one reason you rarely see them. So how are you going to know if they are wrong? Records come up for review when you have an accident injury. Or on your next doctor’s appointment. After an accident, your lawyer gets the records, and then should review them before your deposition is taken to make sure you know what is in them.
Second: if you tell the doctor he made a mistake, he will immediately think you are trying to game him so you can get more money from your accident case.
Third: if your lawyer asks him to fix it, then your doctor thinks your lawyer is trying to game him.
Betty was in a head on collision. An old fart turned in front of Betty. The impact was violent. She was thrown head first into the windshield and had significant head and dental injuries. She wound up with bilateral TMJ, which is a severe jaw injury making it hard to eat. She spent almost $50,000 for surgery with her dentist. I looked at her records and said, “Betty, I thought you told me you hit the right side of your face against the windshield. Why do your dental records say you hit the left side?” Betty shook her head, and said she would tell her dentist and get it fixed.
Two weeks later I got her new dental record. It made it worse. The dentist had made a new entry. “Betty has now hired a lawyer. Now she says she hit the Right side of her face on the windshield. Before she said it was the left side.” Now the entry clearly looks like I am trying to get Betty to help orchestrate a fraud on the dentist and through his records a fraud on the jury.
The insurance company took one look at that new entry and could hardly wait to show it to our jury. We had to settle for less.
More common are the errors when doctors say you came in with complaints of no pain, or only left sided pain. In fact you had pain on the right side. Try to get the doctor to fix that and it will make you look lousy. Or the ER record after an accident. The one that says you came in with the smell of alcohol on your breath! Of course it does: you went home and had a couple of hi balls to help with the pain and headaches. They got worse and then you went to the Emergency Room. The nurse left out the part about you going home so it makes you look like you were drunk when the wreck happened!
Lesson to be learned: You are playing with gasoline and matches if you try to fix medical records. Be careful or you will get burned! Better get an experienced trial attorney who can avoid traps than someone who runs a mill.