In “Suspected epilepsy: when to warn”, L’s parents were not made aware of the possibility of a diagnosis of epilepsy following their daughter’s fit. They failed to attend for an EEG appointment and they claimed it was not clearly explained to them what the test was for. Expert opinion found that had L’s parents been made aware of the possibility of epilepsy, and been given appropriate advice, they would have prioritised their daughter’s EEG appointment.
Similarly, poor communication in “When normal is wrong” resulted in a claim that could not be defended. When Mr B rang his urologist’s room for his results following a vasectomy, Dr X’s secretary informed him that the report was “normal”. Dr X had forgotten to label Mr B’s path lab test as post-vasectomy, leading to miscommunication and Mrs B’s unwanted pregnancy.
Test results should not be given over the telephone by non-medically trained staff to avoid the potential for incorrect information being given or for misunderstandings, as happened here.
Good communication extends to detailed patient notes. A lack of clear documentation made the case “A failure to monitor” difficult to defend. Remember, if an investigation is not written down, it is hard to prove that it took place.
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