Medical Record Mix Up Frustrates Isanti Couple

Updated: 07/17/2014 10:24 PM
Created: 07/17/2014 8:16 PM
By: Stephen Tellier

He went to the hospital for back pain, and left with paperwork for chemotherapy treatment. But he was never diagnosed with cancer - the paperwork belonged to another patient.

Allina Health is calling it is a "very unusual" event. The couple dealing with the issue is calling it an incredibly frustrating one.

Lonnie Shelley was treated for back pain at Cambridge Medical Center nine days ago. He was in and out in a couple of hours. It wasn't until later that night that his wife thumbed through his discharge documents.

"I went through them and I'm going, 'This is not Lonnie's papers,'" said Sharon Shelley, Lonnie's wife.

A piece of paper which was part of his records stated the patient "just finished 2nd chemo treatment" and referenced "lymphoma."

"He was in for back pain with his back. This has nothing to do with back pain," Sharon Shelley said.

And Lonnie has never had cancer.

"It has too much information that we should never have seen," Sharon Shelley said.

"Somebody screwed up someplace," Lonnie Shelley said.

The document doesn't contain any of the other patient's identifying information, and the Shelleys said they love their doctors at CMC. But they also insist something like this should never happen.

"We want only the person that's supposed to get the records to have the records," Sharon Shelley said.

Allina Health released the following statement: "Cambridge Medical Center takes patient privacy very seriously and is committed to protecting patient information. We are working to determine exactly what happened in this case, but are confident that the information disclosed did not contain anything that could be used to personally identify another patient, nor did it affect the care of the patient who received the information. We apologize for the concern this has caused, and while this is a very unusual event, we are committed to taking steps to prevent similar events from happening in the future."

But the Shelleys said they still worry someone else's medical record could compromise Lonnie's future treatment.

"If he was in a car accident and they would get his records, there's certain medications he can't have because of this treatment," Sharon Shelley said.

The Shelleys also said they're frustrated because they have to fill out paperwork and get it approved by four different people just to have that document removed from Lonnie's electronic file. Until then, the document stays in his record.

The Shelleys are urging other folks to carefully read every document your doctor gives you. It's also important to know what your medical privacy rights are. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says you can request a copy of your medical record, find out who has access to it, and if you think there's a problem, you can file a complaint with your provider, insurer, or HHS.

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