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Healthcare Communication: Case Studies and Best Practices for Communicating Critical Findings

June 24, 2021

Communication failure — especially failure to communicate critical findings in a timely manner — can cause patient injury due to treatment delay, delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, or lack of follow-up, and is a frequent allegation in malpractice lawsuits. Especially in primary care practices, expedited follow-up on critical or significantly abnormal test results is a major aspect of liability risk management and patient safety.

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Filed under: Business of Medicine, Patient Care

Inadequate Follow Up on Abnormal Labs Leads to Permanent Injuries

March 26, 2021

One aspect of controlling information overload is planning for the amount of time it will take to follow up on results when a test is ordered. Appropriate follow-up requires the physician to successfully complete numerous steps (e.g., review the result, communicate it to the patient, determine a treatment plan, discuss the plan with the patient, and then facilitate the treatment plan, if necessary). Any failed step during this process can result in patient injury.

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Filed under: Patient Care

Pre-Surgery Delay in Processing Abnormal Results Leads to Patient Death

March 26, 2021

Delays in staff processing of critical and significantly abnormal results can affect various aspects of a primary care practice. The following case shows how a delay in entering results into the EHR coupled with an FP’s failure to carefully investigate the patient’s fitness for surgery can result in patient death.

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Filed under: Patient Care

Lack of Follow Up with “No Doc” ED Patient Leads to Patient Injury

March 26, 2021

“No Doc” patients (patients without primary care physicians) are often treated in the ED. In the following case, an on-call FP’s agreement to admit the patient to the family practice service, and her partner’s examination of the patient, established their responsibility for following up on results ordered by the ED physician.

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Filed under: Patient Care

Failure to Convince Patient of Urgency of Follow Up Leads to Patient Death

March 26, 2021

Although every step in test result management is important and interrelated, patient notification errors tend to result in more adverse events.1 Communicating a critical or significantly abnormal test result requires more than simply distributing the result to the patient. The patient should understand the criticality of the result and how to follow up. Communicating the urgency of the circumstances may require an extra effort if the patient has low health literacy or cognition deficits.

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Filed under: Case Study, Patient Care
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