“Failure to communicate test results” occurs when a medical professional fails to follow up with the patient to discuss the results of a diagnostic test. “Failure to communicate” malpractice cases are one of the top causes of medical misdiagnosis claims. If a physician suspects that a patient has a certain illness and orders a test to prove it but fails to communicate the results to the patient then the patient has no ability to seek treatment. Patients deserve to know the results of the medical tests they receive in a timely manner because the consequences of failure to communicate test results are missed diagnosis and failure to treat which can lead to a serious downturn in health or even preventable death.
Diagnostic medical providers understand their responsibility to notify the physicians who ordered diagnostic tests when results show urgent or unexpected results. A malpractice case for failure to communicate test results is literally a failure to meet the responsibility to communicate. In some cases someone simply forgets to discuss or forward test results but more commonly results become lost or muddled along the chain of communication in a hospital. Part of a medical malpractice lawyer’s job is to identify where and how the communication breakdown occurred.
Between 2001 and 2011, the number of diagnostic tests being ordered increased dramatically. A study of data between 1996 and 2003 found that malpractice settlements related to medical diagnosis increased by approximately 40 percent. An analysis of claims data from Controlled Risk Insurance Company/Risk Management Foundation between 2004 and 2008 shows that failure to communicate cases accounted for four percent of all malpractice cases and seven percent of the total cost of payments.
The data indicates that failure to communicate cases are a growing portion of medical malpractice payments. The reasons may be related to the increased number of diagnostic tests being ordered and/or a growing expectation of reliable notification of medical data.
Doctor’s offices are increasingly making use of automated diagnostic test result notification through semi-automated critical test result management systems. The intention is to make notification more reliable, improve the workflow process, increase patient safety and provide legal documentation of communication when necessary.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury because of failure to communicate test results, you may be able to recover damages through a medical malpractice claim.
The Seattle personal injury attorneys at Morrow Kidman Tinker Macey-Cushman, PLLC have years of experience representing families harmed by medical malpractice. We seek justice for patients who have been harmed by preventable medical errors including birth injuries, hospital-acquired infections and wrongful death 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.
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