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Much Ado About Nothing
As I reviewed the Administrative Actions section of Washington state's Medical Quality Assurance Commission Update! bulletin I recognized the name of a physician who often shares the physicians' lunch table at the hospital with me, Alan Bunin, M.D. According to the bulletin Dr. Bunin "allegedly failed to maintain medical records for patient." Now I know that Dr. Bunin is old-school (But not exactly right wing: he claims to have been a freedom rider in the 60s.), so for a moment I wondered whether perhaps he just does not keep medical records at all.
I easily found the Statement of Allegations here. According to the statement Dr. Bunin "failed to maintain a medical record of the treatment he provided" and when the patient's "subsequent treatment provider requested the patient records, Respondant only produced a one-page document." Furthermore, when the MQAC (pronounced imquack) investigator asked him to provide records Dr. Bunin "was unable to provide" them.
Did Dr. Bunin ever create a record? What became of the missing records?
According to the Statement, "he had given the entire original medical chart" to the patient "without keeping any copy."
Oh for shame Dr. Bunin!
MQAC To the Rescue:
Fortunately we have this august body of distinguished professionals and lay people to intervene. (What would we do without them?) In its infinite wisdom the Commission, showing considerable restraint, proposed an Informal Disposition, also accessible from the link above. I will not bore you with the details, except to mention that Dr. Bunin agreed to complete "a minimum of four (4) credit hours of preapproved Continuing Medical Education (CME) on the topic of medical record-keeping" and to submit to chart audits. (That should teach him.)
Only by reading further do we discover that any damage to the patient that might have resulted from this egregious error was "moderated" by the fact that the patient "was able to provide them to subsequent treatment providers."
Maybe my imagination is running wild here, but I find myself wondering why MQAC, having discovered that the patient had the records all along could not have simply suggested that he or she simply return them to Dr. Bunin. If things were that simple I guess we would not need government.
Keep up the good work MQAC.
PS: Dr. Bunin is still waiting for MQAC to approve that four hour (minimum) course he hopes will teach him to keep a copy next time he provides an original record to a patient.