Don’t Let Medical Miscommunication Endanger Your Health

Negligence comes in many forms. That’s true when it comes to matters of medical malpractice as well. NPR reports that there is something that both medical professionals and patients can do to avoid potentially fatal problems such as missed diagnosis. Communication needs to improve.

What does that mean? It means a couple of things. It means that patients need to be more persistent and vocal about getting their test results. Some patients give their doctors too much benefit of the doubt and will, therefore, sit around and wait for their medical information to come instead of actively seeking it. This can be dangerous to a person’s health.

NPR suggests that a patient should ask their doctor when their test results will be ready. Some medical professionals will be very open and clear about that, but others won’t. It’s a patient’s responsibility to ask the questions and write down the answers so they know exactly when to expect anticipated medical news.

Research shows that diagnostic errors make up about 40 percent of medical malpractice claims and that the amount of money that’s been awarded as a result of diagnostic and communication errors in the past couple of decades has increased by about four times. These statistics should inspire all patients and medical professionals to work harder to ensure that test results are communicated in a timely and clear manner.

Many of us have been there. We’ve waited by the phone, by the computer or rushed to the mailbox to learn about a pressing health issue. It can be a stressful, emotional process. But we can attempt to take control of that process by contacting our medical professionals or switching to a healthcare provider that’s better about communication.

Of course, in the tragic event that a diagnostic error occurs, there can be legal options available to help. An experienced and compassionate medical malpractice attorney could best explain those options to an injured patient and his family.


  • NPR: “Test Results: Too Important To Wait For A Doctor’s Call,” Michelle Andrews, Nov. 29, 2011