It is a physician’s duty to inform a patient of their test results as part of the high standard of medical care to which they are held. A patient is also entitled to know the purpose of the exam along with any potential dangers or side effects that could occur. Research indicates that physicians fail to communicate test results to their patients more than seven percent of the time. A failure to communicate test results can lead to personal injuries or complications because of the absence of information needed to assess the need for further treatment.
It is in the patient’s best interest to become an active participant in their medical exams. Ask questions such as “what is the purpose of this test?”; “could the information be obtained some other way?”; “what are the potential side effects of the test?” and “when can I expect test results / how will I get them?” The patient should write the expected date for test results on their calendar and follow up with the office if they haven’t heard by that day. Additionally, it is important to keep records and medical receipts for all tests performed; they serve as a useful reminder of impending results and diagnoses and could be necessary in the event of filing a medical malpractice claim.
There are several reasons that a medical professional may fail to communicate test results including the simplest: they simply forget. More commonly, however, test results become lost or muddled along the chain of communication in a hospital. The chain of communication may involve several people including a nurse, a general practitioner and a specialized surgeon. In these cases, identifying the source of the miscommunication is necessary in order to prove liability; a personal injury lawyer will be able to help in this assessment.
If you have incurred serious or lasting injuries or additional medical fees and other related costs as a direct result of your physician’s failure to communicate; you may be entitled to damages through a medical malpractice lawsuit or other type of claim. In the case of a medical malpractice suit, your lawyer will have to prove that the failure to communicate test results is directly traceable to your doctor and the sustained personal injury. If a medical malpractice lawsuit is not appropriate, then a personal injury attorney will be able to advise you on the best course of action based on the details of your case.
Medical malpractice claims for failure to communicate have increased significantly in recent years. One study published by Elsevier Inc. found that between 1996 and 2003, malpractice payments related to diagnosis increased by approximately 40 percent. The analysis identified a steep increase in the number of diagnostic tests being ordered, which could have contributed to the increase in cases.
The Seattle personal injury attorneys at Morrow Kidman Tinker Macey-Cushman, PLLC have years of experience representing families harmed by medical malpractice, birth injuries and other personal injuries. We seek justice for patients who have been harmed by preventable medical errors including wrongful death, catastrophic injuries and traumatic brain injuries in Seattle and across Washington State. There are no fees or expenses to file a personal injury case as we only receive payment if we recover damages on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims come with a statute of limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time frame of the injury.
Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate, experienced Seattle injury lawyers. We are ready to fight for you.