According to a research reported on in the Archives of Internal Medicine, it was shown that doctors often fail to tell patients about bad medical test results. The review showed that a review of the medical records of 5,434 patients at primary care and academic medical facilities, found that doctors failed to tell patients about abnormal test results more than 7% of the time. This article will discuss if failure to inform a patient about medical test results rises to the level of medical malpractice.
One investigation searched the records of randomly selected patients between the ages of 5 -69 in respect of abnormal results on common blood tests and screening test, such as mammography exams and pap smears. It was found that in 1,889 instances where the test results were out of the normal range and showed an immediate danger to the patient’s health or the potential of damage over time, it was discovered that in at least 135 cases, no notification was given.
It must be noted that when it comes to medical tests no news is not necessarily good news. Generally, it is dangerous to assume that all of your medical test results are normal just because you did not hear anything about them from your doctor. As shown in the above reports, patients often fail to receive needed follow-up care because serious medical test results are lost or overlooked. Lost test results lead to a misdiagnosis or delay in treatment that can be life-threatening for the patient and may rise to the level of medical malpractice against doctors.
In order to prove medical malpractice there are four basic elements to take into consideration:
Duty - this is that the doctor has a legal duty of care in respect of notifying you of your test results. The standard is the care that a reasonably competent, prudent health care professional would administer in similar circumstances.
Breach of duty - the concept of a breach of duty in a medical malpractice case is simple; if your doctor fails to abide by the standard of care he or she breached his or her duty to you as a patient. The doctor’s failure to notify the patient is in fact a breach of the doctor’s duty of care towards the patient.
Causation - this is the main element when it comes to choosing a medical malpractice case. In order to prove causation, the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s lawyer must show that the doctor’s breach of duty caused harm to the plaintiff. Therefore, in respect of a failure to notify of medical test results, there must be tangible proof of harm or injury sustained by the plaintiff as a result of not being notified of their test results.
Damages - there must be proof that as a result of all the above elements the plaintiff suffered some kind of harm whether it is physical, financial, psychological or otherwise. These may include economic and non-economic damages in respect of your injuries.
For legal advice, representation and a free case evaluation contact Anchorage lawyers handling medical malpractice.