Indiana medical malpractice lawyers have seen the situation many times: A doctor recognizes the patient’s potential problem and orders the right test to confirm his suspicion. Unfortunately, when the abnormal test result comes back confirming the doctor’s suspicion, the patient is not notified. Months or years go by before the patient’s condition is finally diagnosed.
The subject was in the news last summer when a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that the rate of apparent failure to inform patients of abnormal outpatient test results exceeded 7 percent. The study noted that most of the medical practices with high rates of failure did not have explicit rules for notifying patients of test results. The study concluded that “Failures to inform patients of abnormal test results or to document that they have been informed can harm patients and expose physicians to indefensible malpractice liability.”
In response to this serious issue, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has issued eight Recommendations for Policies for Communicating Abnormal Test Results. The simple policy suggestions are designed to ensure that patients are informed of their test results in a timely manner.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a failure to communicate test results, the Indiana medical malpractice lawyers at Garau Germano Hanley & Pennington, P.C. may be able to help.