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Failure to notify reportable test results: significance in medical malpractice.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22051461     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Data-Review    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
BACKGROUND: Diagnostic physicians generally acknowledge their responsibility to notify referring clinicians whenever examinations demonstrate urgent or unexpected findings. During the past decade, clinicians have ordered dramatically greater numbers of diagnostic examinations. One study demonstrated that between 1996 and 2003, malpractice payments related to diagnosis increased by approximately 40%. Communication failures are a prominent cause of action in medical malpractice litigation. The aims of this study were to (1) define the magnitude of malpractice costs related to communication failures in test result notification and (2) determine if these costs are increasing significantly.
EVALUATION: Linear regression analysis of National Practitioner Data Bank claims data from 1991 to 2009 suggested that claims payments increased at the national level by an average of $4.7 million annually (95% confidence interval, $2.98 million to $6.37 million). Controlled Risk Insurance Company/Risk Management Foundation claims data for 2004 to 2008 indicate that communication failures played a role, accounting for 4% of cases by volume and 7% of the total cost.
DISCUSSION: Faile communication of clinical data constitutes an increasing proportion of medical malpractice payments. The increase in cases may reflect expectations of more reliable notification of medical data. Another explanation may be that the remarkable growth in diagnostic test volume has led to a corresponding increase in reportable results. If notification reliability remained unchanged, this increased volume would predict more failed notifications.
CONCLUSIONS: There is increased risk for malpractice litigation resulting from diagnostic test result notification. The advent of semiautomated critical test result management systems may improve notification reliability, improve workflow and patient safety, and, when necessary, provide legal documentation.
Authors:
Brian D Gale; Dana P Bissett-Siegel; Steven J Davidson; David C Juran
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Journal of the American College of Radiology : JACR     Volume:  8     ISSN:  1558-349X     ISO Abbreviation:  J Am Coll Radiol     Publication Date:  2011 Nov 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-11-04     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101190326     Medline TA:  J Am Coll Radiol     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  776-9     Citation Subset:  IM    
Copyright Information:
Copyright © 2011 American College of Radiology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Affiliation:
Department of Radiology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, New York.
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