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I seldom have a week go by where no clients get surprised by what is in their medical records. I’ve said it before and you know me, I’ll keep repeating it. Medical records are a collection of facts (lab and test results) and rambling thoughts transcribed from the terrible handwriting of an overworked doctor who really doesn’t feel like they are making money when they are updating records.

How can I put this gently? If your medical records don’t have any mistakes in them, it’s only because you have actively monitored what goes in. If you have never reviewed your medical records there is about 110% chance that it contains mistakes, inaccuracies, and occasionally pages from someone else’s records.

I know that there has to be a level of trust between a patient and a doctor and some doctors deserve that trust when it comes to medical care. I think most doctors drop the ball when it comes to educating their patients on medical issues, but these guys are overworked and there are only so many hours in the day. How overworked. Reader’s Digest recently interviewed a few dozen doctors and wrote an article containing their random thoughts on several issues. A lot of these doctors are simply sick and tired of whiny patients and the state of their records probably reflects that.

The reason this is a life insurance issue is that underwriters use medical records to determine how much a person is going to pay for life insurance, and often whether they will get insurance at all. Underwriters have to assume that what you have told them is a layman’s opinion and what is contained in your records is medical fact. So, when you lay out your best recollection of your medical history for an agent and that goes on the application, it is at some point verified or trumped by the information in your medical records. If the information doesn’t match, you lose.

Bottom line. Get a copy of your medical records. Yes, all of them. Bring up any error or discrepancies to the doctor and insist that they be corrected or that your assertion that there is erroneous information in your records be added. After everything is cleaned up, insist that a copy of notes from any visit are proofread by you before they are entered.