Isn’t it funny how scientific research often confirms what most of us already suspected or knew to be true? Well, another study like this recently came out. According to recent research conducted at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, patients who are allowed to see their medical records during their stay in a hospital have less anxiety about their treatment or procedure. We know…not that surprising.
One of the hopes coming out of the study is that allowing patients to review their medical records while they are hospitalized will not only help them to be less anxious, but also to become more involved in their care and to potentially prevent medical errors from occurring. This last point is an important one.
It is already known that getting patients involved in their care is important from the perspective of increasing communication between providers and patients. Informed patients, by taking an active role in their treatment, can increase provider engagement and help improve their quality of care. So it makes sense that allowing patients to review their medical records would contribute to the improvement of care, particularly because a certain number of medical errors are based on misreading or miscommunication in medical records.
Getting a patient involved in their own medical care does not, however, mean that physicians are any less responsible for exercising appropriate caution in the delivery of medical care. Patients do not have the expertise physicians do, and need to be able to trust that their provider is going to bring that expertise to the table in delivering safe care. When this does not happen, patients may have no other option but to seek damages in court.