The UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest, California, has been slapped with a lawsuit alleging that anesthesiologists at the facility falsified a patient’s medical records after a patient woke up during a procedure.
According to the lawsuit, patient Randy Dalo underwent surgery in January 2017. During his procedure, Dalo states that he “saw three or four hazy shadows of people looming over him, then a bright light, and when he tried to scream, he could not.” He alleges that this is evidence that he woke up during the surgery. Furthermore, he experienced significant pain after the surgery, more than he believes should have occurred had he received the appropriate amount of anesthesia and pain medication.
Dalo’s lawsuit names the UC San Diego Medical Center as a plaintiff alongside Dr. Bradley Hay, the anesthesiologist involved in his procedure; anesthesiology nurse Tammy Nodler; and Dr. Gerard Manecke Jr., who was the chief of the anesthesiologist department at the time. He argues that Hay and Nodler did not give him enough anesthesia and falsified his medical records to pretend they had. According to the lawsuit, Hay was suffering from a debilitating opioid addiction at the time, which may have caused the error.
In fact, shortly after Dalo’s traumatic experience, Hay was required to give up his medical license. He was discovered unconscious in a bathroom at the facility, surrounded by multiple empty opioid vials. It was determined that he stole this medication from the hospital and patients. UC San Diego and Manecke Jr. had evidence of this theft occurring as early as 2003 but had continued to employ Hay and allow him to treat patients without disclosing his addiction to them. Dalo’s lawsuit states that this makes the hospital and Manecke Jr. partially liable for the injuries Hay caused during his practice.
The case demonstrates that even experienced medical professionals may still violate patient rights. Intoxication, theft, and other negligent or reckless behavior can harm patients in any facility. Meanwhile, falsified medical records can continue to cause harm for years. Here’s why false records pose such a danger and what you can do if you believe your records have been falsified.
The Damage of Falsified Medical Records
Your medical records are a critical source of information about your health. Health facilities around the country have been required to maintain electronic health records (EHRs) since 2015 to simplify the process of sharing information about a patient. Your doctors and healthcare team rely on EHRs to track what health issues you may experience, whether problems are worsening, and even basic information like allergies and prescriptions.
That’s why falsifying EHRs is such a problem. In Dalo’s case, falsified records may be making it harder for him to hold negligent medical professionals accountable for their actions. In other situations, inaccurate records could lead to allergic reactions, under- or over-prescribing medications, or misdiagnosing severe health conditions. Depending on what false information is included, it could lead to a lifetime of ineffective or even harmful medical care.
How to Determine If Your Medical Records Have Been Altered Without Your Consent
Because modern medical records are now maintained electronically, they may be falsified when information is added or altered after the fact. It is easier to detect if a record has been changed afterward because EHR systems monitor who alters each record and when.
You can determine whether your record was changed to be incorrect later by working with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. At the Law Offices of Michael Oran, APC, we go to your medical provider’s office and examine your records in person to determine what has been included, excluded, or changed, to ensure that your record is as accurate as possible.
Proving that a record was falsified at the moment is more difficult because there is no record of a change. You may be able to prove that it is false by:
- Compare the record with the insurance bill. Sometimes, a healthcare professional will leave out information from your medical record but still include it on your statement. If these documents don’t align, it is a sign one of them is incorrect.
- Consulting with another medical professional. Depending on the false information, another healthcare professional may be able to tell whether a procedure was performed correctly or if an allergy or medication was noted incorrectly.
- Providing witnesses. In some situations, you may be able to have a witness, such as a family member or another medical professional, testify that something occurred or did not occur when it was listed otherwise on your record.
Correcting Your Medical Records and Holding Medical Professionals Accountable
Just because a record is incorrect doesn’t mean it has to remain so. You have the right to request that your healthcare team updates your records to be accurate. If they refuse, you can also file an addendum in your records stating why you believe the information is false and what is correct.
You can also hold the healthcare worker who lied on your record accountable for their actions. Depending on how the false records were used, it may be a misdemeanor or felony. In addition, if the inaccurate records caused you harm, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.The best way to correct your records and take action against dishonest doctors is to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney. At the Law Offices of Michael Oran, APC, we specialize in helping victims of the healthcare system get justice for what they’ve suffered because of healthcare negligence and dishonesty. Learn more about how we can help you with your medical record dispute by scheduling your consultation today.