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

     • 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.