Are electronic medical records tamper-proof?

Savvy users with access to the medical record storage systems can easily manipulate data if adequately motivated. The fear is that in the future, manipulated medical records will become a tool to gaslight patients about their treatment. These fears are justified by the actions taken by hospital employees in the case of a woman’s misdiagnosed breast cancer.

How a misdiagnosis led to delayed treatment

In March, NBC reported on the story of a mother of eight and horse rancher in Northeastern Kentucky whose cancer was misdiagnosed.  At first, she didn’t consider herself a “suing person.” Like many, she held faith in her medical team to review her medical tests and provide accurate, actionable information about her health.

That was not the case. The patient received a letter clearing her of a breast cancer diagnosis, and she moved on with her life. As her condition progressed, her doctors assured her that the lump she’d found was nothing more than an infection.

By the time she had a second opinion from a cancer specialist, the cancer had spread to her bones and lymph nodes. She received a prognosis of one year, one that she has so far beaten. But as she fought to live, she demanded to understand how things had come so far, and that’s where the most concerning piece of this entire story comes into play.

The coverup

When the hospital received her medical malpractice lawsuit, hospital employees entered her records and changed the contents of the letter she received. This falsified evidence later appeared in court to prove that the victim had caused her situation. Only through intensive digital forensics were the edited medical records discovered.

Personal advocacy, medical accountability

Medical providers must keep their records faithful, and the only way to achieve that is to hold hospitals and their staff accountable for their actions. Mistakes happen. So do misdiagnoses. However, covering up those mistakes only makes a problem worse and adds difficulties to victims simply seeking coverage and compensation for their conditions.