Medical Records — The Cards You’re Dealt

Medical records frequently contain errors.  They misdescribe accidents and get patient demographic information wrong.
There’s a statute in Washington (RCW 70.02.100) that says:
For purposes of accuracy or completeness, a patient may request in writing that a health care provider correct or amend its record of the patient’s health care information….
But the reality is that 9 times out of 10 your records are not going to be revised and you’re basically stuck with what’s in them.
At some point during the case—either at deposition or trial—you’re going to be asked whether you did your best to accurately describe your injuries and symptoms to your providers.  You’re going to answer that you did.  Opposing counsel will then read from your medical records and say isn’t it true that on this date your pain was 2/10?
At that point you can either acknowledge that you reported to your provider that your pain was 2/10 or try to impugn your provider either as a listener or record-keeper.  Challenging the ability of your own doctors is basically a death sentence in a personal injury case.
A much better strategy is to acknowledge the accuracy of the record and wait until it’s our turn so we can ask a “better” question.  For example: Did your pain stay at a 2/10?
You can explain that you have good days and bad days.  The day you saw the doctor was a good day.  It was a Monday and you didn’t have to work over the weekend.  But after a week of work you can barely get out of bed on Saturday.
Takeaway is that your medical records are basically the cards we’re dealt.  They’re the reality of the case.  Contradicting your providers is going to hurt your case.  It makes sense to navigate around records with which you don’t agree rather than testifying that your provider got it wrong.

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