If you were treated at a Fontana area medical center and failed to receive your test results in a timely matter, your physician or the facility itself may be guilty of medical malpractice. When a delay in obtaining your results causes harm, compensation may be available.
No News Isn't Always Good News
When your doctor orders diagnostic or screening tests, don't assume that no news is good news. You should be notified of your test results even if they show nothing out of the ordinary. As a patient, you have a right to be kept informed about your medical care.
If you're not notified of your test results, it's possible that a mistake occurred. According to the Archives of Internal Medicine, doctors fail to inform patients of abnormal test results over seven percent of the time. This includes common screening tests such as Pap smears and mammography exams, as well as blood tests for high cholesterol or other serious conditions.
Doctor's offices, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities are very busy places. Most facilities have recordkeeping procedures that should be followed to avoid a failure to communicate test results, but mistakes occur more often than patients expect.
Reasons for a failure to report test results to a patient often include:
- No effective result tracking system
- Breakdown in the chain of command
- Inadequate documentation of the test
- Incomplete documentation of the test
- Simple forgetfulness on the part of your physician
Although it is less common, a doctor can sometimes notify a patient of an incorrect test result. This type of error might occur if the lab technician was not properly trained to perform the test correctly. Additionally, errors in the entering of patient identification numbers or two patients with very similar names can cause a mix up of patient files.
Pursuing Legal Action for Medical Malpractice
Even though it's understandable to be upset if you discover that your doctor did not inform you of your test results in a timely fashion, this alone isn't enough to have a case for legal action. To successfully pursue a medical malpractice case, your doctor's failure to notify you of test results must have caused demonstrated harm. For example, if you did not learn of an abnormal mammogram and were later diagnosed with breast cancer, you might have a case if it can be determined that the delay made your cancer more difficult to treat.
The amount of compensation you may be eligible to receive as a result of your medical malpractice claim is based on factors such as the:
- Cost of past and future medical treatments
- Compensation for lost income or future earning potential
- Pain and suffering caused by your condition
- Punitive damages in cases involving particularly egregious conduct
California law gives you one year after discovering a failure to communicate test results or three years after the date the test was performed to file your claim. Whichever deadline comes first is considered the statute of limitations for your case.
Determining Who Is Responsible
In most cases, the referring physician is listed as the defendant in a case involving a failure to communicate test results. However, the radiologist, pathologist, or lab technician responsible for administering the test could also be at fault. Whether or not the hospital or lab facility is responsible depends on the reason why the results weren't communicated to the patient.
Protecting Your Rights
In any medical malpractice case, it's crucial to have an experienced attorney on your side to ensure that your legal rights are protected. Medical malpractice cases require extensive documentation to prove misconduct on the part of the professionals responsible for your care. A skilled attorney can help you obtain the proof you need to support your claim.
If you believe that you’ve been harmed by a failure to communicate your medical test results following treatment at the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Medical Center or another local facility, please contact the Inland Empire Law Group by calling (888) MY IE LAW. A free, no-obligation consultation is available from our offices in Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville.