Though medicine has become increasingly science-driven and high-tech in the past few decades, it still remains by nature a very human activity, one that requires a connection between physician and patient. When a doctor fails to communicate findings to a patient, it’s a serious breakdown in the process, and injuries or even death can result. This may be grounds for a medical malpractice suit, through which you can seek compensation in a court of law for your injury.
Failure to Communicate Can Harm You
Not hearing from a doctor doesn’t necessarily mean that your test results are good. Never assume that if you haven’t received your results you don’t need to follow through. In fact, one shocking study found that one-third of doctors fail to always notify patients of abnormal results, and nearly as many had “no reliable method” of ensuring that patients receive the results of their tests. Nonetheless, you are entitled to not only the results of any medical test or exam performed on you, and it is a failure on the part of any health care professional who will not report those results to you.
There are many potential reasons why a doctor may not communicate test results to you, including:
- Forgetfulness. A busy doctor who is juggling too many cases can simply forget.
- Lost results. Unless careful procedures are followed, sometimes a result can “slip through the cracks” and be mislaid or lost.
- Failure to pass results. The health care system is a linked system of professionals, including primary care physicians, nurses, lab technicians, specialists who provide interpretation, administrative personnel, and many others. If one professional doesn’t pass information through the appropriate chain of custody, results can be misrouted or lost.
- Improper documentation procedures. If a doctor, clinic, or hospital doesn’t have an effective system of recording and tracking your test results, the information may not be recorded properly or in the right place.
- Failure in training. If officer staff or other personnel don’t have adequate training in the handling of important results or other material, your results can be delayed or even lost for good.
Not all of these situations may result in medical malpractice, though. In order for a miscommunication to be considered malpractice, there must be real harm done. Some examples of potential negligence caused by failure to communicate include:
- Delayed treatment. If a failure to communicate test results causes a condition to go untreated and to worsen, it may result in far more intensive treatment than would have been necessary. For example, a delay in the diagnosis of certain cancers may allow the disease to spread unchecked, resulting in a greater need for chemotherapy or other dangerous treatments when it is finally discovered.
- Misdiagnosis. If a set of missed test results causes the wrong disease to be diagnosed, it may result in serious harm.
- Improper treatment. If a disease isn’t detected or is misdiagnosed, it could cause the wrong treatment to be applied, which can be lethal.
Other situations not covered here may arise from failure to communicate that constitute negligence, too. If you’re not sure, it may be best to consult with a medical malpractice attorney and discuss your case.
Proving Negligence in a Medical Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice cases can be legally challenging due to the technical nature of medicine and the human body, but there are four basic facts that must be proven in order for your medical malpractice case to succeed. You must demonstrate that:
- The doctor had a duty of care to you, which means that he or she must have been responsible for your care.
- The doctor was negligent, meaning that he or she failed to provide the same level of care as any other reasonable doctor with similar training would have provided.
- The doctor’s negligence caused a real injury to you.
- The injury caused specific damages to you that you can be compensated for, including the cost of medical bills, lost time and wages, physical pain, disability, and more.
Your attorney will help you every build your case step of the way and present it to the court so that you can pursue the compensation that you are owed.
Get an Experienced Attorney
If you have suffered harm as a result of a health care professional who has failed to provide test results to you, you may be able to receive compensation in a court of law, and Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you. Our medical malpractice team brings years of experience to the table, fighting against negligent medical providers on behalf of severely injured patients and their loved ones. To talk to a Texas legal professional about your potential medical malpractice suit, call us today at 800-237-3334 for a free case evaluation.