Spring has sprung, which means spring cleaning for many of us. It may also be a good time to retool your office tracking procedures, as diagnostic error accounts for one-third of SVMIC’s paid claims. Tracking system failures are a primary factor in diagnostic error. Maintaining a system within each office site for tracking lab and diagnostic test results, referred patients, hospital discharges and missed appointments is essential to avoiding delays in diagnosis and/or treatment. A patient may fall through the cracks if your office fails to act upon an abnormal test result or a missed appointment. Review your tracking procedures to ensure your method best fits your practice. The type of system chosen will depend largely on the nature of the practice and your choice of medical records (paper or EHR). Tracking procedures should be simple, organized, and consistently used by all staff and providers in the practice. Staff should be trained and accountable for accurately maintaining the system and alerting providers when expected results are not received. Remember, tracking is only part of the equation for proper procedure management. Appropriate patient communication and documentation is also necessary for the prevention of missed or delayed diagnoses.
Julie Loomis is Assistant Vice President of Risk Education for SVMIC where she develops educational programs and assists policyholders and staff with risk management issues. Ms. Loomis is a member of the Tennessee Bar Association and American Society of Healthcare Risk Managers (ASHRM). She serves on the Risk Management/Patient Safety Committee of the Medical Professional Liability Association. Ms. Loomis is a speaker on risk management and professional liability topics at industry seminars, medical schools and residency programs.
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