Q. What suggestions do you have for tracking and following up on test results?
A. Medical malpractice cases involving tracking and follow-up errors are difficult to defend. Why? They’re difficult because they offer less room for reasonable minds to differ when a case involves simple tracking and follow-up failures.
To avoid such errors, ProAssurance’s risk management experts encourage medical practices to implement reliable systems that help ensure the following six steps occur:
- Tests are performed.
- Results are reported to the practice.
- Results are made available to the physician for review and sign-off.
- Results are communicated to the patient.
- Results are properly filed in the patient’s chart.
- Results are acted upon, if indicated.
Test results may be reported to your practice in a number of ways – by hand delivery, mail, telephone, fax or email – just to name a few. Results come from multiple places in multiple forms and at varying times of the day. As a result, you have to rely on staff members to ensure you receive the information.
Staff should understand the importance of bringing test results to your attention when they are received. Unfortunately, test results are too often misplaced, misfiled, lost or simply not communicated to the physician until it is too late.
Physicians insured by ProAssurance may contact our Risk Management department for prompt answers to liability questions by calling (800) 292-1036 or via email.