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June 23, 2009

Frequency of Failure to Inform Patients of Clinically Significant Outpatient Test Results

"Ordering and following up on outpatient laboratory and imaging tests consumes large amounts of physician time and is important in the diagnostic process. Diagnostic errors are the most frequent cause of malpractice claims in the United States; testing-related mistakes can lead to serious diagnostic errors. There are many steps in the testing process, which extends from ordering a test to providing appropriate follow-up; an error in any one of these steps can have lethal consequences. In this article, we focus on one step in the process: informing the patient of test results. Failures to inform patients of abnormal results and failures to document that patients have been informed are common and legally indefensible factors in malpractice claims."

Read more in Archives of Internal Medicine, June 22, 2009.

Note: This article is free, but you need to scroll down to see it.