Doctor Liability for Failure to Communicate Test Results

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Am I Entitled to Know the Results of My Medical Exams?

As the patient, you are entitled to know the results of your medical exams. All medical professionals are held to a high standard of medical care, and that standard of care includes informing the patient of the outcome of any medical test or examination that is performed on them. Your doctor should also inform you of the purpose of the medical exam, and also of any dangers or side effects that might result from the exam.   

Why Would My Doctor Withhold Test Results from Me?

Research indicates that doctors can fail to communicate test results to their patients over 7% of the time. This may not seem like a common problem, but such failures can result in serious injury or complications, even if the test results do not indicate that anything is wrong. This is because test results are used to determine whether further treatment is necessary.
 
A doctor might fail to disclose test results for several reasons. For one, they may simply forget to tell the patient about the test results. More often, test results can be lost or confused along the chain of communication in a hospital. Test results are often relayed between several different people, such as from a nurse to the general physician or from a general surgeon to a specialized surgeon. For this reason, it is important to locate the source of the miscommunication in order to know who is liable for the miscommunication.

What Types of Damages Can I Obtain?

If your test results have been withheld from you, you may be entitled to legal relief. This could include monetary damages for any injuries resulting from the failure to communicate. You may also be able to obtain compensation for medical fees and other related costs stemming from the failure to communicate.
 
Additionally, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit if your injury is particularly serious. You will have to prove in court that you received actual injuries as a result of the doctor’s failure to communicate test results. Also, you will need to prove that the failure to communicate test results is directly traceable to your doctor.

How Can I Protect Myself Against a Failure to Disclose?

You can take several steps to make it more likely that you will always receive the results of your medical exams. In fact, you should always take such steps to protect yourself, since errors can occur at many points during medical treatment.
 
In order to protect yourself, you should ask your doctor the following questions when you are facing any medical exam:
 
The basic idea behind asking these questions is to get involved with the medical exam. Do not sit back and be passive. Instead, take active steps to ensure that your medical tests are properly conducted and that you receive the results, whether they are positive or negative. This is important to do, since the future of your health could depend on it.

Another way you can ensure that you remained informed of your medical test results is to make notes on your calendar of when medical test results should be released and communicated. If you have not heard from your doctor on that date, follow up and make sure that they are up to date on your treatment.

It is also very important that you keep all records and medical receipts. These records and receipts may be useful in reminding yourself and others what tests have been performed on you and what test results you are currently entitled to receiving.  Furthermore, these documents may be significant evidence if you do end up suing your doctor for failing to give your test results to you.

Do I Need a Lawyer if My Doctor Failed to Tell Me My Test Results?

If your doctor has failed to disclose the results of your medical exam, you may be entitled to legal relief. You should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible while the events are still fresh in your recollection. An attorney can help specify your course of action if you have been injured as a result of your doctor’s errors. Also, a lawyer can recommend alternative legal actions that might be appropriate for your claim. 

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Last Modified: 07-28-2014 03:27 PM PDT

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