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Avoid Medical Malpractice Lawsuits: Tell Patients the Truth

There is a small, but disturbing, increase in incidents where doctors do not inform their patients about abnormal test results. According to a study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, roughly 7% of patients were not told about significant clinical findings. This lack of information could result in an accusation of non-diagnosis or misdiagnosis, which, of course, would result in a corresponding increase in the number of possible medical malpractice claims.

The study examined over 5,434 patients and their records relating to abnormal blood tests, imaging tests and x-rays. The point of the study was to find out if the patient’s were advised, within a reasonable time, that your result were “abnormal”. Out of 1,889 cases, 135 patients weren’t told about their abnormal test results.

So, why didn’t the doctors tell their patients about their lab results and other significant findings? Apparently, some doctors believed that they had told them, even if their showed no such indication. Some doctors felt that the results weren’t serious enough to warrant mention, and others were planning to inform patients but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. In our experience, this kind of stuff scares people, and rightfully so. It’s their health, their life and their test results. They depend on the doctor to take care of them, not ignore test results. This practice gives the patient a false sense of perfect heath.

How can patient notification errors be avoided? Test results should be sent directly to the doctor who is principally responsible for that patient. Upon furnishing him/her with the results, require that the doctor acknowledge receipt, in writing; require that an office staff person inform the patient that the results are in and have been provided to the principal doctor and keep a record of the call. Tell the patient to call the doctor for the results if they do not here from his/her office within a prescribed period of time.

These are simple steps that would help avoid drastic consequences for the patient and the doctor. They are simple steps, but the doctors’ cooperation must be a major component to the process. LitigationFundingCorp.com strongly urges doctors who wish to avoid medical malpractice lawsuits to practice prompt, full and honest disclosure to their patients.

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