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Rick Shapiro
Rick Shapiro
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Report Shows Doctors Who Fail to Communicate Test Results to Patients Get Sued More Often

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A significant number of doctors are failing to properly communicate test results to patients, and that is putting the physicians at greater risk for medical malpractice lawsuits, researchers reported in the November 2011 issue of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The authors wrote that malpractice payouts linked to communication failures rocketed from $21.7 million in 1991 to $91 million in 2009. During the stdy period, the proportion of communications-related claims rose from 0.93 percent of all-cause medical malpractice actions to 2.31 percent.

As experienced Virginia (VA) medical malpractice attorneys, my colleagues and I are alarmed that some doctors are failing to communicate test results to patients. If patients are not given the full picture, they may fail to get the appropriate treatment for their conditions.

In an era when increasing numbers of patients are seeking additional information about their conditions on the internet, it’s worrying that there are still some doctors out there who are failing to communicate properly.

We deplore any move to deny information to patients and recently reported on how a databank which has been used for a quarter of a century by members of the public and the media to find out if a doctor has been disciplined or the subject of a lawsuit, has been removed by a federal agency from the public domain.

We are aware how miscommunication can lead to misdiagnoses. In a recent case, our client was misdiagnosed with viral meningitis when he was suffering from fungal meningitis, a very serious and fatal disease. The misdiagnosed patient suffered severe neurological injuries and is now permanently disabled. The case settled in mediation for $650,000.

DM

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.