It is fascinating for me to see a new generation growing up with technology, and how so many of them are facile with coding and electronically stored information. The world of record-keeping has moved from analog paper files to digital files stored in electronic health record systems stored in the cloud.
Surprisingly, the laws surrounding record keeping are a little behind the reality of how the world works, which means that some institutions are trying to conceal information by pretending that they aren’t technologically savvy. Let me give you an example. My firm recently contacted the parent company in Nebraska of a facility here in Northern California when we were told that the records of a client’s father who had passed away were stored on-site there. For months the company tried to block our requests to access the raw electronic data directly, telling us first that they didn’t have it, and then that it would not be possible to view it. The fact that they were blocking our requests so hard was a real red flag; this only strengthened our resolve to get the information. After multiple Court Orders, we were finally allowed to see the records, but only offsite at a remote location. No problem. We arranged for a videographer and a computer technician to attend, and we sat in front of a computer terminal saving duplicate copies of the electronic health data that the company reluctantly produced.
There was a good reason why they tried so hard to block our requests. It turned out that one of the nurses who was involved in the care of the patient went into the electronic health record, after the fact, and made late entries into the record a month after the patient was discharged to try to make it look like nothing bad had happened. It was a clear cover-up.
Large corporations know that they can delay, defer, and conceal for a long time before any court will take them to task. It’s part of their game plan. Our game plan is to vigorously pursue them using the very same technology tools that they hope will make their problems go away. The reality is that digital technologies make it nearly impossible for documents and records to be altered after the fact without anyone noticing. The key is understanding the technology, and using what I call ‘electronic forensics’ to hold such institutions accountable.
If you are experiencing a problem with an institution that won’t cooperate in providing health records, or if they aren’t completely forthcoming in giving you a complete medical record, call us directly at the York Law Firm. We may be able to help.