Although time-consuming, it may be in a physician’s best interest to personally deliver test results to patients. Practice Management Daily reports a story of a patient taking legal action against her physician due to their physician’s failure to do so.
The patient went to the otolaryngologist for discomfort on her tongue. The doctor referred the patient to a pathologist who concluded there was “chronic mucositis with mucosal acanthosis and keratinocyte atypia” and “no in situ or invasive malignancy” but couldn’t “rule out mild dysplasia. The otolaryngologist had one of his staff members call the patient to tell her the biopsy was “negative for irritation” and told her to schedule a follow up appointment in a few months.
The patient ended up having a cancerous mass on her tongue and she took the otolaryngologist to court (the case was resolved prior to arbitration).
According to Practice Management Daily, “Personal calls by physicians to patients on initial labs can give patients the benefit of a physician’s own thinking on what should happen next. Also, the act of sitting down with a report, rephrasing it into plain English, and preparing for a patient’s questions can serve as a kind of “time out” for the physician — providing one more opportunity to make sure everything is in order.”
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