Ways of Mitigating Risk When Referring Patients
Mitigating Risk When Referring Patients
To minimize the risk of error relating to patient referrals, consider the following guidelines:
• Encourage face-to-face or telephone conversations between referring and consulting physicians to clarify contents of a report if necessary.
• Clearly establish the responsibilities of both parties when communicating results.
• Document each exchange thoroughly.
• Require a provider to initial and date (or electronically sign) all consultation reports before filing them in a patient’s medical record.
Treating patients successfully and without error requires seamless communication – lacking or incomplete information can result in missed or delayed diagnoses, patient injuries and subsequent malpractice claims. To mitigate this risk, establish a system that ensures that requests for consults, studies and other referrals include sufficient, comprehensive information and that critical results are acted upon in a timely manner. A lack of clearly defined roles and responsibilities throughout the process can impede a facility’s ability to provide and promote safe patient care.