While in a life or limb-threatening emergency, emotions run high and it’s difficult to think of what comes next. Yet, whether admitted to the hospital or discharged, it’s always a good idea to ask for the medical records before leaving.

Why is this so important? When I get calls from frustrated or angry clients, it’s usually over ER visits. When I ask them “What was your diagnosis?”—most of them can’t tell me because the doctor never told them. Yet, the doctor wrote the diagnosis down in the medical records and if it’s wrong or incorrect—it’s almost impossible to get the hospital to fix this later.

I’ve had clients who were “diagnosed” with vertigo and heart issues when they just had food poisoning and needed IV hydration. Also, sometimes people will get “diagnosed” with an anxiety disorder when they came in with chest pains and racing heart rate. If they would have asked for their medical records, they could have challenged the diagnosis which affects the medical codes and the billing as well as the insurance coverage—and save themselves from a lot of problems.

Now, most of us don’t feel like dealing with these details when we’re very sick or in pain—which brings me to a second point: Take someone with you who can advocate for you! That person can ask questions and get the records you need in the future. And if you don’t have anyone to go with you? Call me—patient advocates love to come to the aid of their clients and I would be happy to help.

Takeaway message for today:

-Ask for medical records before leaving the ER after your visit there

-Take someone with you who can advocate for you

It’ll save you stress, time and money down the road!