Doctors failing to act on medical test results

Hospital investigations

It is axiomatic that there is no point in a person undergoing expensive and often time consuming tests and investigations if the results of those tests are not monitored and, where necessary, appropriate steps taken if the results indicate the need to take them.

However, it appears that a fundamental failure to do so is not simply a problem in the UK but in other clinical systems such as the US equivalent as well.

In this day and age, whether we like it or not, we are all accustomed to and heavily reliant upon computer led diary and reminder systems, medical organizations as much as you and us. However, as clichéd as it may sound, such systems are only as good as the quality of information input in the first place. You cannot get out what you have not put in.

Patient safety will inevitably be put at risk if therefore either the monitoring and follow up system is intrinsically flawed or, more likely, if the data inputting is inadequate.

Lloyd Green, Solicitors, have handled cases where, for example, abnormal radiological or blood results have been recorded but not forwarded on to the primary health provider, the General Practitioner, and thus no further action has been taken. It is not difficult to envisage that this will frequently lead to a missed diagnosis and all too often a seriously adverse outcome for the patient concerned.

Other investigations

Indeed we have recently dealt with a case in which our client was seen for a routine eye test in Tesco opticians and their normal processes detected slightly elevated pressures on her eyes (a clear marker requiring monitoring and/or investigation).

Tragically, although the Tesco optician then wrote a clear letter to the client’s GP reporting the above, and the letter was properly logged in the surgery’s records as an optician’s letter as such, regrettably no other detail was recorded and no appointment subsequently made to discuss this with the client or, more importantly, to refer her to the local Hospital for urgent analysis.

The outcome of this oversight was the client’s development of acute glaucoma, and associated depression, which was almost certainly avoidable had the correct, prompt, action been taken. A very sad, preventable, situation indeed.

GP led investigations

More commonly, if a person is concerned about a particular symptom or condition and consults his/her GP, a referral to the local specialist follows.

Excepting the position in section 1 above, ordinarily the results of testing done at the Hospital upon the GP’s request are sent to the surgery for review.

The normal course of events would see the GP arrange for the patient to discuss those results, swiftly if anything unexplained or sinister was revealed.

Delays at this juncture can be critical, resulting for example in the development of an illness or disease, with potentially life threatening consequences. Alternatively, if treatment was likely to have been palliative only anyway, the delay may foreseeably reduce the person’s life expectancy.

In all of these situations and more, Lloyd Green, solicitors, have considerable experience and expertise and will be more than happy to guide you through the process of making an initial complaint, if that is your preference, and/or formalising the process by presenting a legal claim to the clinician or practitioner or relevant insurers.

With our close collaboration with independent medical practitioners and specialists, we will ensure that your claim is handled sensitively and swiftly, to secure you an explanation and apology, where possible, and ultimately fair and proper compensation for the regrettable events that have occurred.

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