Cornell research shows doctors fail to inform patients of test results.
New York, NY(JusticeNewsFlash.com – New York medical malpractice lawyers News)–No news is good news, right? Not when doctors are neglecting to inform their patients of abnormal test results. A study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on Monday, showed 7 percent of patients failed to receive notification about significant clinical findings in medical test results, according to the New York Times.
The lead researcher, Dr. Lawrence P. Casalino, an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medical College and his team of scientists, reviewed nearly 5,434 patient medical records at 19 independent primary care physician’s offices, and four academic based medical centers. The researchers concentrated on patient medical records containing abnormal blood test results, X-rays, and various imaging tests. The research team was particularly searching for documentation, within patient medical records, showing the patient was properly notified of any abnormal test results within a reasonable time frame. In total, the researchers found 1,889 cases of abnormal test results, and 135 of those cases were not reported to the patient.
Casalino, and his team of researchers, surveyed both medical doctors and the uninformed patients, and found many doctors claimed they informed the patient of their test results, even though there was a lack of documentation to support their claim. A significant number of other doctors in the study did believe some patient test results were not significant enough for the patient to be notified. In a small amount of cases, the doctor did not notify the patient at the time, but planned to inform them soon. Two of the largest academic medical centers, which has 80 primary care specialists combined, showed 23 percent of abnormal test results were never reported to the patient.
The researchers drafted a simple five step process that could eliminate or significantly reduce patient notification errors:
1. First, send the test results directly to the doctor responsible for that particular patient.
2. The doctor then signs off on the test results.
3. The doctor’s office personnel notifies the patient of all test results.
4. The practice fully documents that the patient was informed of his test results.
5. When patients undergo testing they are instructed to contact the doctor, after a specified time frame, if they have not been notified of their test results.
The authors of the study acknowledged the sample of doctors were self-selected and volunteered to be a part of the study. Researchers stated a random sample of offices, or a larger number of participating doctors offices, could have shown different results.
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