Dr. Brian D. Gale of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn and colleagues said clinicians have ordered dramatically greater numbers of diagnostic examinations during the past decade.
The rapid growth of diagnostic testing appears to be placing physicians at greater risk for medical malpractice claims for test communication failures, Gale said.
The researchers also cite a study demonstrating that from 1996 to 2003, malpractice payments related to diagnosis increased by approximately 40 percent.
The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, found the contributing factors in malpractice cases associated with communication failures include failure of physicians and patients to receive results, delays in report findings and lengthy turnaround time.
Using data from the National Practitioner Data Bank, the study authors found the total indemnity payout across all medical specialties for U.S. claims related to the three types of communication failures they studied increased from $21.7 million in 1991 to $91 million in 2010.
Linear regression analysis of data from 1991 to 2009 indicated communications related to claims payments increased at the national level by an average of $4.67 million annually, the study said.
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