If you find something inaccurate in your records, there may be a way to correct this. Or there may not be.
Either way, there is always a way to make your records better in the future. It is never too late to start creating great, accurate records, and there are a whole bunch of things you can do to help this happen.
Before reading this page, please make sure you are collecting and reading all your records. Do not read your records on online portals, and do not read visit summaries given out at the front desk. These do not include all secret doctor notes.
Fixing the Past
If possible, you can try to meet with the doctor and see if they are willing to add an amendment to the records with the correct information.
If talking to your doctor does not work, you can make your request in writing. More information on next steps can be found here: My Medical Records are Wrong and here: How to Correct Medical Records and here: How to Demand Accurate Medical Records.
This excellent article walks you through how to amend your records and gives you a sample letter you can send to your doctor. Your Right to Amend Your Medical Records.
If anyone reading here has had success getting their records corrected, please comment below and let us know what steps you took and how things turned out.
Improving the Future
No matter what is in your records now, it is never too late to start creating better records right now!
Although it is disheartening to discover problems in your records, it is also really helpful information to discover. If your doctor continues writing inaccurate info and won’t correct it, then it at least you can be grateful you know this now, so you can make informed decisions about what docs you want to see in the future.
Reading your records can also be a very helpful (and very illuminating) way to see how your doctors are interpreting what you are saying. This can help you become more clear, focused and accurate in describing your symptoms in the future.
Why Do Records Go Bad?
Many people think that the reason mistakes happen in records is because the doctor was a bad listener or close-minded or lacked knowledge of their condition. All of this is possible. But it is not the only reason we have seen mistakes happen.
Some of our readers report that as they went through the process of applying for disability, they came to see that some of the inconsistencies in their records came from things they said to their doctors, or the way they were describing their illness, symptoms and activities.
There are a lot of reasons this might happen: Chronic illness patients are often distressed, confused, or overwhelmed when talking to their doctors. They may be embarrassed to admit all their symptoms, or not ready to accept how bad things are. They may be emotionally torn about not being able to work, and giving a lot of mixed messages in this area.
They may also be in pain or on medications that keep them from thinking and talking clearly. They may also be “putting on a good face” or trying to dress and act their best while at the doctor, instead of showing the doctor what it is really like for them on a daily basis.
How Do I Improve the Accuracy of My Records In The Future?
One common reason records can be inaccurate is patients giving mixed messages, trying to “put on a good face,” or downplaying symptoms out of shyness, embarrassment, or habit. Changing this is hard, but worth it: How to Stop Hiding From Your Doctor
If you find it overwhelming or confusing to remember everything while at the doctor, or to describe things in a clear succinct way, you may find it helpful to keep a symptom diary: How to Keep a Symptom Diary.
Petunia did a great job with keeping a list like this: Petunia’s List of Limitations for Disability
Dahlia and her friend had the same condition and the same doctor. But their records were totally different! Dahlia Finds a Surprise in Her Medical Records
On the other hand, if you are being totally clear with your doctor and your doctor simply is not listening to you, or not understanding your condition, it may be time for a new doctor. That’s what Dandelion did: Dandelion Switches Doctors
Your Records and Disability
Social Security will attempt to collect your previous medical records. Just because they will attempt it, does not mean they will be successful! The best thing to do is collect and send them yourself, or work very closely with your lawyer to make certain they are all collected and sent. (Note: We are serious about the very closely part).
Social Security will request from your doctors the record from before your onset date (usually the last day you worked is considered the onset date). Social Security will request one year before onset for physical health records and two years for mental health records.
If your records are from before this time period, Social Security is unlikely to see them. If you would like them to see older records, you can collect the records yourself and submit them.
In the past, lawyers would sometimes leave out records that did not support a case, but the regulations have changed. If a lawyer is given a record, she must submit it to Social Security. Sometimes doctors don’t respond to record requests, so if the lawyer is never sent the record, she is not responsible for submitting it.
Tips from Readers
“Even if you attempt to correct misinformation, a doctor may refuse to do so. The best you can do is ask for your comments to be added to your medical records to refute their comments. Another option is to hire an attorney and fight to have your records corrected. It’s expensive and I know someone who had to do this.”
Tools for Troublemakers
Thanks for Reading
🌸 Page Updated: 8/1/19
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