Mitigating Risk When Referring Patients: Consulting Physicians

        Mitigating Risk When Referring Patients


Consulting physicians should send timely written reports to referring physicians. Reports containing critical results should be clearly marked and should include:

     • Findings

     • Recommendations, including interventions and the delineation of
     provider responsibility for treatment

     • Follow-up of abnormal test results, including incidental findings

Consultants should also contact referring physicians when patients fail to keep appointments, documenting the notification.

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.