This is a sad truth. And a frustrating one especially if you are dealing with any kind of Worker's Compensation claim because then the lies are embedded, and zealous adjudicators will haul them out and use them against you, but I should stop now). It's also only partially true. In theory, you can change your medical records. You just have to do the following:
- see the records (why it's important to get the records).
- notice the problem.
- bring the problem to the attention of your provider within the time limit and in the manner your provider requires (why it's important to get the records quickly).
- follow up politely, fervently, and regularly even if you can tell they think you are a huge pain (because they don't have to deal with the fallout from the incorrect records, but you do, and it could be worse than just having some medical records people get huffy with you).
- have that response be approved/agreed with.
- follow up to make sure the change gets made (and pay any fees associated with getting another copy of the records).
But it really is a hassle, so you may only want to address the potentially life-threatening mistakes, especially if this provider is the one linked to the hospital system you would most likely get admitted to. If the hospital system and associated docs use the same health information system, the emergency room docs can see that cortisone allergy in the records. If you end up at a totally different hospital, they have no records at all since the health information systems are all designed as silos that don't play well with other health information systems because standardization in this realm prevents them from making any money.
(That was cynical. Sorry. But also true. Standardization of electronic health records would save hospitals, clinics, the government, and patients tons of money at the expense of the health information system development companies, so you can see that it is unlikely to ever occur.)
My advice: If your doctor is not afraid of you providing paperwork, try to hand over copies of what you say during the appointment (much easier with your handy PHR binder!). This could increase their chances of typing up accurate notes and save everybody time. Otherwise, just request the records a week later, and determine if it's worth the hassle to correct the mistakes. (If this is a worker's comp claim, IT IS ALWAYS WORTH THE HASSLE NOW TO CORRECT THE ERRORS TO SAVE YOURSELF SO MUCH STRESS, TIME, AND RAGE LATER, EVEN IF YOU JUST DON'T HAVE THE ENERGY TO DO ANYTHING RIGHT NOW.)