When silence isn’t golden: no call could mean medical malpractice

The “no news is good news” attitude of some doctors can be very bad news for some patients. Patients whose doctors or other health care providers tell them that they will not receive a call if their test results are normal should ask for a different approach.

Up to 40 percent of medical malpractice claims involve alleged diagnostic errors. While a diagnostic error can be a misreading of an x-ray or a botched lab test, it can also be the failure to communicate the test results themselves.

Whether their test results are normal or abnormal, patients should hear about them. If they do not learn the results, it is certainly possible that the results are fine. It is also possible that the results are concerning – but they are lost, misplaced or forgotten.

Patients and Doctors Can Improve Communication

Illinois patients whose doctors order medical tests should make sure they know who is performing the tests and why. Sometimes tests are performed by various providers and routed through different systems. Patients should ask their doctors what steps they need to take to learn all the results. They should also request that the providers deliver the results to their doctors.

If it isn’t clear which tests are being performed or when the results will be available, patients should ask. If an online system to receive results is available, taking advantage of it can put some control in patients’ hands.

Doctors need to ensure that their patients fully understand the purpose, timeline and meaning of all the tests they undergo. A vital part of that process is delivering the test results.


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At Cirignani Heller & Harman, LLP, we represent Illinois clients in Chicago and throughout Cook County, including the cities of Cicero, Elgin, Schaumburg, Oak Park, Maywood, Berwyn, Elmhurst, Evanston, Skokie, Des Plaines, Mount Prospect, Arlington Heights, Palatine and Hoffman Estates. We also help clients in DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, McHenry County, Will County and Winnebago County. If you have been the victim of medical malpractice in Illinois, CHH Law is the law firm with attorneys that can help.

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