News / 

Medical Information Is Missing Too Often

Save Story

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Dr. Kim Mulvihill reporting When you go to the doctor, you expect the physician to have your medical history at his or her fingertips.

But a new study says too often, medical information is missing from patients' records, and that can affect the care they receive.

These doctors are reviewing a patient's x-rays, deciding how to care for a patient. But what if this x-ray were missing?

The doctors and their staff spend valuable time tracking it down, and the patient would have to wait to receive care, or even get another x-ray.

Brian Bacak, M.D./ Family Physician: "At times they're told that we can't do a procedure, or we can't figure out what's wrong with them, because we don't have the appropriate information."

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says missing clinical information is not rare, but all too common.

Researchers surveyed 250 doctors about more than sixteen-hundred patient visits, asking if any medical information was missing from the patients' files.

Peter Smith, M.D./ Researcher: "We found that 13.6% of all visits had some important medical information that was missing. That's nearly one in seven visits."

Missing information was more common in a patients' first visit to an office, if the patient was a recent immigrant, or if the patient had more than one medical problem.

"We found that in nearly half the visits, the physician thought that the missing information was at least somewhat likely to negatively impact the patient, and in more than half the visits, it would lead to additional or delayed medical services."

Researchers says insurance companies and health care providers need to switch to electronic medical records that can be shared between providers. But patients also have a role to play.

"Patients should keep a list of their medications, keep a list of their medical problems and any recent test results and update that regularly."

Doctors agree:

"It's important that we have the information that we need at the time of service because it allows us to provide better care for our patients."

Other studies show missing medical information contributes to medical errors and may put patients safety at risk.

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast