It is believed that about 20 percent of Americans are suffering from a “poor credit health history” according to a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  A new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report warns Americans that their personal medical files may not be entirely accurate.  It is believed that a person’s “health credit,” analogous to his individual credit scores, will not be fully accurate until the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services establishes a comprehensive database for medical professionals to access.

The real world implications of inaccurate medical histories can be devastating. For instance, insurance companies may refuse to cover certain procedures due to factually inaccurate assumptions concerning an individual’s health. Inaccurate medical records may also negatively impact a patient in the event that he must bring a lawsuit relevant to a medical condition. It is crucial that medical professionals—including doctors, facilities and pharmacies—maintain the integrity of a patient’s medical history. In certain cases, an incorrect diagnosis on a patient’s medical chart can cause an insurance company to reject a legitimate procedure. Even more disconcerting is that the erroneous diagnosis may not be removable from the patient’s medical file.

As many primary care doctors turn to electronic retention of medical records it is important that patients be aware of their medical history reports. For now, patients are well advised to be conscientious about the accuracy of their medical histories and be proactive and vocal about any inconsistencies they may uncover.