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Malpractice Claims Could Arise From the Failure to Share Diagnostic Test Results

Failing to communicate clinical data from diagnostic tests, for instance not letting patients know what numbers mean or taking too much time to share results with patients, places physicians at risk for medical malpractice lawsuits, according to a study findings published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

According to a SUNY Downstate Medical Center press release, researchers, using information from the National Practitioner Data Bank, found the total indemnity payout across all medical specialties for U.S. malpractice claims involving diagnostic doctors dealt with communication failures. Diagnostic doctors let referring clinicians know about unexpected or urgent patient results.

The research studied payout increases from $21.7 million in 1991 to $91 million in 2010. From 1991 to 2009, data shows that communications failure-related medical negligence payments rose at the national level by an average of $4.67 million each year. During the past 10 years clinicians have ordered more diagnostic examinations.Perhaps, this is because some doctors think they might be sued if they do not order an indicated test

It seems when doctors are in doubt, they tend to give more medical care.Because clinical evaluation usually depends on diagnostic tests, doctors' medical liability payments rise when failures to communicate affect patient safety. When reportable test results occur, health care providers require policies that detail the responsibility of reporting and referring medical providers to ensure patient follow-up.

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