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Direct Communication Is Key For Radiologists | Daytona Beach Medical Malpractice Attorney

Direct Communication Is Key For Radiologists

The communication process and how the results of radiology tests are relayed to patients is a big issue when it comes to malpractice lawsuits.

Communication issues were ranked as the fourth largest cause of malpractice lawsuits, and it is the second highest average indemnification or compensation, according to Diagnostic Imaging, which has covered the imaging market for the past 30 years. Such communication issues contribute to 80 percent of malpractice lawsuits as a causative factor, according to research by the group.

While radiologists have not been the primary communicators of imaging reports with patients, that is about to change. By the radiologist communicating directly to the patients, the radiologist cold help solve the errors in communication.

Diagnostic Imaging points to recent malpractice judicial decisions which offer clear expectations of direct communication with patients. At both state and federal appellate levels, several cases have found against the radiologist when abnormal findings were not directly communicated.

Legislative action in 2010 also suggests that the expectation of reporting radiology results directly to patients is growing. Last year, Pennsylvania was the first state to introduce legislation that requires a summary of imaging findings to be sent to patients within 10 days of the full report being sent to the ordering physician.

The concern by many radiologists is that the radiology report is too technical for patients to understand or interpret properly, and that will cause confusion. Another concern is the increased time for radiologists to meet such a requirement.

Also in 2010, California legislation required radiology facilities to alert patients if any unusual radiation dosages had been administered. With this new awareness, patients have also become more concerned with the accumulated dosages over time from repeated radiation exposures. Recent studies on the subject have helped to increase awareness for consumers.

Patients are now expecting information about the dosage — including the expected amount of radiation exposure, the amount received by a patient, and the accumulation. This suggests a need for radiation exposure reporting directly to patients.

A web-based system for rapid multidirectional communication has shown success in at least one California hospital and more efforts are underway, including the development of mobile apps that will help to improve communication between radiologists, physicians and patients.

For more on medical issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach medical malpractice attorney.

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