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3 Strategies to Ensure Timely Test Results Communication

August 27, 2021

Communication failure 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. In this special report, NORCAL Risk Management experts offer strategies for reducing communication failures to increase patient safety and reduce professional liability.

Communication Failures a Major Issue in Medical Liability Claims


  • Communications issues are among the most frequent and most expensive associated issues in medical liability claims.1


  • Evidence of absent or poor follow-up systems can be used to support negligence allegations.

Best Practices

  • Strategies for reducing communication failures to increase patient safety and reduce professional liability.2


1. Claims data is based on a recent study of the NORCAL Group cause-of-loss database for the period April 2015-March 2020. Cost of claims is total indemnity.

2. Hardeep Singh, Meena S. Vij. “Eight Recommendations for Policies for Communicating Abnormal Test Results.” Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. 2010 May;36(5):226-232. DOI: 10.1016/S1553-7250(10)36037-5


  • Associated Issue: a contributing factor to the allegation; each claim can include up to three
  • Indemnity: a financial settlement or adjudicated payment of a liability claim
  • Paid-to-Closed: percentage of closed claims involving an indemnity payment vs. closed with any other outcome

Filed under: Special Report, Patient Care



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