Mitigating Risk When Referring Patients: Referring Physicians

        Mitigating Risk When Referring Patients


Referring physicians should be encouraged to follow up on all cases they refer. When referring patients, the referring physician should remind the consultant of respective roles and responsibilities. To ensure that every patient is accounted for, take the following steps:

     • Develop a method for alerting the referring physician when a consultation
     has been completed and whether a written report has been received.

     • Require referring physicians to contact consultants when a written report
     is missing.

     • Require information regarding the patient to be included with the letter
     of referral, including:

          ◦ The reason for the referral

          ◦ Patient history and diagnostic studies performed

          ◦ Specific definition of expectations

          ◦ Contact information and request for follow-up

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.