The top secret to avoiding medical malpractice in Kingston, New York

The most common mistake made by physicians in medical malpractice cases?

Lack of communication. The basis of many, if not most, malpractice cases is simple: medical errors are often caused by an absence of information regarding a patient's condition or health history.

Time for an example: The patient is Mr. Jones, a 60-something patient, with a three week history of severe abdominal pain.  A visit to the Emergency Room leads to the appropriate test, a CT scan of the abdomen.  The preliminary report of the CT scan of the abdomen is "normal" and the ER physician sends the patient home with a clean bill of health.  One hour after the patient leaves the hospital, a final report of the CT scan reveals that Mr. Jones has a perforation of his stomach consistent with a gastric ulcer.  This is a very serious abnormality that can lead to death for Mr. Jones within 48 hours.  Unfortunately, the ER physician was never aware of the abnormality on the final report of the CT scan of the abdomen.

The following day, Mr. Jones visits his gastroenterologist with the same complaints of severe abdominal pain.  The gastroenterologist is told by Mr. Jones that the hospital doctor ordered a CT scan of the abdomen and the test was negative. Mr. Jones is given pain medicine and sent on his way.  Mr. Jones's gastroenterologist is never aware of the abnormal finding from the CT scan of the abdomen.  Now, Mr. Jones is a ticking time bomb.

A day later, Mr. Jones's condition deteriorates and he lapses into a coma and later dies.  An autopsy reveals that Mr. Jones had a hole in his stomach that had been detected on the final report of the CT scan of his abdomen two days before his death. Unfortunately, the physicians treating Mr. Jones were never notified about the gastric perforation, which ultimatedly killed Mr. Jones.  The lack of communication between the radiology department at the hospital and Mrs. Jones's treating physicians resulted in Mr. Jones's death.

People are hurt because medical information does not follow the patient into their medical encounters and doctors are often unaware of abnormal findings on tests that can made a big difference in the patient's treatment plan.  So, what can you do to avoid the #1 mistake made by doctors?  There is an answer.

The best way to prevent medical mistakes

The best way to protect yourself and your family from this medical error is to ensure that any doctors who treated you have the accurate, current information they need, when they need it, about your medical history.  Never make a doctor guess!  You don't want to leave the only copy of your medical records locked away in your doctor's office.  So, what can you do?

"VitalKey" is a health record management service administered by medical specialists that gives you your own up-to-date digital copy of your medical records. VitalKey gathers and organizes your medical records from each of your doctors and puts the information on your VitalKey for you to carry with you wherever you go--on your keychain or around your neck.  Your medical records are digitally scanned and organized on a flash drive, which has enough storage capacity for you to store medical information for your whole family.

Your medical records are stored on a small USB computer drive that is usable on any computer.  You can carry the computer "thumb drive" on a key ring in order to ensure that your medical records are accessible at all times by you and your health care providers.  Your medical records are organized and stored in intuitive categories for doctors to access without any prior training. All you or your doctor has to do is plug it in and click "start".  Your medical records are organized in a "table of contents", so you or your doctors can quickly find the pertinent medical records.

When you have a doctor's visit that results in new medical information, VitalKey gets it on your flash drive and your VitalKey updates itself from any internet connected computer.  To access your medical records, you or your doctors just plug your VitalKey into the USB port of a computer and voila, you have instant access to the medical records of your entire family.

Many people store the medical records for every member of their immediate family on the VitalKey.  Medical information, such as allergies, medical conditions, medications, immunizations, lab reports, imaging studies, past medical procedures, insurance information, medical directives (health care proxy, living will, durable power of attorney, last will and testament) and family medical history will be instantly accessible for all of your doctors, including those treating you for the first time with no knowledge of your medical history.

What are the benefits of having a portable electronic medical records that are always accessible?

Even if you are unable to talk, your VitalKey tells doctors what they need to know. In medical emergencies, the portable electronic medical records can save your life.  Say you have a heart attack and you are unable to speak at the hospital, the VitalKey will give your doctors critical information about your health, i.e., an allergy to penicillin, which can make a big difference in your medical treatment.

Even if you lose your VitalKey, the company keeps a back-up copy of your information, so your information is never lost.  Many physicians and hospitals discard medical records that are more than six years old, as permitted by New York law, but VitalKey ensures that you always have access to your medical records even when the records are lost or destroyed.

The VitalKey helps you track your health changes.  If you have a family history of diabetes, you can track your glucose (sugar) levels to make sure they fall within normal ranges.  Or if you have diabetes, you can check the pattern of your A1C levels to make sure you are following a good diet and taking your insulin. Instead of guessing at the blood levels, the numbers are instantly accessible.  If your health changes, the VitalKey will serve as a baseline to allow you and your doctors to see when and where the changes occurred.  This helps keep you involved in your own care.

How you can get a VitalKey

If you have an interest in the VitalKey, you can visit their website at www.vitalkey.com.  A medical specialist will be assigned to you, who will ask basic information about your healthcare providers and get a release authorization from you.  From there, VitalKey does all of the work getting your records, organizing the records on your VitalKey and sending your the thumb drives for you and your family members.  The monthly service plans range from $8.95 for a single person to a family plan that costs $21.95.

This is an excellent service that will make you an active player in managing your medical care. I highly recommend it.

If you have questions, this is what you can do

If you have any questions about portable electronic medical records, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can send me an e-mail at [email protected] .  You are always welcome to request a FREE copy of my book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.