Patients not only place trust in their physicians to perform and interpret medical tests; they also expect a presentation of accurate results and an understanding of their condition. Doctors may, however, overlook items in the results of about 62% of their patients’ laboratory tests, as reported by U.S. News and World Report.
Medical practitioners reportedly fail to notice about 36% of the findings of imaging tests such as x-rays, ultrasounds and sonograms. Regardless of the cause, it may lead to a missed, delayed or inaccurate diagnosis and cause permanent injury or a preventable death.
Consequences of medical test miscommunication
Doctors owe a duty of care to communicate to their patients what their test reports mean and how those findings may help determine the course of their treatment. Neglecting to thoroughly review or communicate a patient’s test results may lead to devastating consequences if a practitioner could have otherwise prevented a potentially severe condition from worsening.
A patient may prefer to see several different medical providers when faced with a serious condition. With a patient’s consent, each doctor may communicate their prescribed test results with the various members of a patient’s medical team. Open discussions and the sharing of documents may help inform a provider of the need to refer a patient to a specialist.
Failure to refer a patient to a specialist
The mother of an 8-year-old boy filed a malpractice lawsuit against a Mississippi physician. As reported by Insurance Journal, a jury found the doctor liable for the boy’s permanent brain injuries and awarded him $2.6 million.
The jury found that the physician breached the standard of practice in obstetrics and gynecology by failing to fully monitor the mother while pregnant. Although the doctor purportedly noted that the fetus showed “poor growth,” he did not advise his patient to seek treatment from a specialist.