- Posted March 6, 2010 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Passions over health care reform
HMO Deletes Abnormal Test Warnings from Patient Electronic Health Records
HMO RIGS PATIENTS’ ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS
ABNORMAL TEST RESULT WARNINGS ARE DELETED
By Robert and Jacquelyn Finney
HMO Profit Protection System! Delete warning flags and written warnings from patient lab reports =fewer patient visits to primary care and specialist physicians =decreased costs =increased profits.
An investigation by two patient whistleblowers has uncovered Kaiser Permanente’s rigging of its electronic medical records system to conceal abnormal lab test warnings and risk explanations from 8.6 million patients in their medical records posted on Kaiser’s patient website.
Kaiser confessed to manipulating electronic lab results provided to 8.6 million patients only after the investigators exposed its scam.
The HMO’s “Thrive” advertising campaign slogan, “electronic health records save lives,” lures unwary patients into a trap of misplaced trust that Kaiser is providing accurate, complete health information. Rather, the HMO’s electronic health records fail to warn patients that they are at risk of or suffer from life-threatening diseases.
Kaiser’s concealment of abnormal test result warnings violates patients’ rights to actively participate in their own health care. Hiding abnormal test warnings prevents patients from enforcing their right to complete, accurate information about the best diagnosis and treatment choices. The HMO’s electronic medical records system creates obstacles for patients to obtain second opinions and to appeal the delay and denial of medically necessary health care.
Beginning in 2008, Kaiser Permanente’s patient website retroactively deleted abnormal test result warning “flags” and risk explanations from patients’ electronic medical records that had been previously posted on Kaiser’s website. The redacted records contain no announcement that they had been altered. Kaiser’s current system fails to include abnormal test result warning “flags” and risk explanations that had been included in the records in past years.
If Kaiser had nothing to hide, the HMO would have notified patients that the prior warning flags and risk explanations would be deleted from their future medical records. If Kaiser had nothing to hide, the HMO would have notified patients that the prior warning flags and risk explanations had been retroactively deleted from their past medical records.
Kaiser’s subterfuge causes a reasonable person to ask what other critical health warnings and risk explanations the HMO is hiding from patients.
In November, 2008, Robert and Jacquelyn Finney uncovered Kaiser’s shocking scheme during their routine review of their electronic medical records posted on the HMO’s patient website. The HMO had deleted abnormal test warnings of kidney and cardiovascular disease risk, which had previously been posted in their past medical records.
• In 2006, their electronic medical records included warnings, including “flags” and risk explanations, cautioning them that their kidney disease and cholesterol test results were abnormally high.
• In 2008, abnormally high warning “flags” and risk explanations had been retroactively deleted from these same records. Their medical records contained no announcement that previous abnormally high warning “flags” and risk explanations had been deleted.
The Finney’s broadened their investigation by comparing the entirety of their electronic medical records currently posted on Kaiser’s website to the same records that they had previously saved. Abnormal test result warning information and risk explanations, previously included in past years, had been deleted from each one of their electronic medical records.
No Abnormal Test Warnings = No Diagnosis and Treatment of Kidney Failure
One of the most chilling aspects of the Tuskegee Experiment is how zealously doctors concealed diagnosis from syphilis patients, withholding penicillin to cure them, to study how the disease killed them.
Like the Tuskegee doctors, Kaiser concealed its deletion of abnormal test result warning flags from kidney failure patients’ medical records to conduct a secret cost containment experiment. In 2009, a Kaiser doctor admitted that at least 50,000 kidney failure patients in southern California were “never” diagnosed and treated.
Kaiser removed flags to spare doctors and other medical staff from having to take numerous calls from patients to inquire if abnormal test results indicated disease that required treatment. Kaiser not only saves money by decreasing the volume of patient phone calls, but also by decreasing the number of diagnostic and treatment procedures.
No Abnormal Test Warnings = No Patient Rights
An integral purpose of electronic medical records is to advance patient rights. They are sold to the American public as patient-centered and patient-controlled tools specifically designed to empower patients to take charge of their health in an equal, meaningful partnership with their physicians.
In reality, they are a giveaway to insurance companies that harms patients instead of helping them. Electronic medical records systems, that insurance companies can rig at will, make a sham of government oversight and patient rights.
As their investigation substantiates, absent strict government oversight and rigorous penalties, electronic medical records provide insurance companies with a weapon of mass destruction against patients. Rigged, government-subsidized electronic medical records systems harm patients and cheat taxpayers.
The Finneys’ investigation was validated by the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) introduction of a “Health Information Bill of Rights” on October 5, 2009. The bill’s enactment is imperative, said Vera Rulon, AHIMA’s president, due to “repeated abuses of access, accuracy, privacy and security of the most basic rights of individuals.”
Included in the bill are:
• “The right to expect accurate and complete health information.”
• “The right to know who provides, accesses, and updates your health information.”
• “The right to hold health care professionals and others accountable for violations of privacy and security laws, policies and procedures.”
Early, accurate diagnosis and treatment to prevent and detect disease, disability, and death are fundamental patient rights. Health care services that do not provide patients with full disclosure to exercise their rights are dangerous and worthless. Kaiser Permanents is built on a foundation of lies. Like the “Ford Pinto,” Kaiser health care is unsafe at any speed.
See how Kaiser Permanente Rigged Patient “Medical” Records
To compare the two unaltered records against the altered records, click the link below that will take you to the full investigation. The records appear at the end of the report. The Huffington Post pickup up our investigation and did its own follow-up which is also available.
Also, a second independent investigation, including supporting documents related to electronic “medical” records and their impact on patients, has been completed and added to the site. It can be accessed on the U.S. Department of Justice section of the site as identified by a photo of Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States.
P.S. The file that is posted is of a woman who demanded medical attention from her doctor after she took the initiative to get information relating to kidney disease. She was motivated by reading "Dear Abby." The title of her story is "Kidney screening has changed her life." Actually it saved it.
“Implementing KDOQI CKD Definition and Staging Guidelines in Southern California Kaiser Permanente,” Mark Rutkowski, MD, Research and Evaluation and Renal
Program Administration, Southern California Kaiser Permanente, American Journal of Kidney Diseases, March, 2009.)
Robert Finney, Ph.D., was Hewlett-Packard’s Health Care Cost Containment Manager. Jacquelyn Finney was a federal Medicare fraud investigator. Dr. Finney is the author of “HOW TO PLAY HMO HARDBALL: The Patient’s Self-Protection Manual.”