The recent award of $10 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit is noteworthy not only for the high amount of the award, but also for what can be learned from the case. It highlights the consequences of poor patient communication and lack of appropriate follow-up.
A study reported in the September 2018 American Journal of Roentgenology concludes, “A semi-automated approach to tracking patients with IVC filters can facilitate care coordination and clinical decision-making for a device with known potential complications.” The study followed 293 IVC filter recipients over a 6-month period, and found that the use of a tracking system improved the filter retrieval rate from 23% to 34% over the same period of the previous year.
Healthcare reform is forcing ongoing risk vs. reward debates that seek consensus on the ideal balance of cost expenditure and patient care quality. As a prime example: the issue of if and how to best handle patients with incidental imaging findings receives continued scrutiny. This Reuters article summarizing a recent study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) highlights the complexities inherent to developing standards of care for the major types of incidentalomas. It also reveals key insights that can be used for the benefit of radiology practices and patients alike.
Radiologists often identify incidental findings. When clinically significant, communicating these findings for further evaluation and treatment can be a lifesaving action. Despite best efforts, documentation in radiology reports does not adhere to a fixed standard, making subsequent analysis of incidental findings quite difficult. And, while such a finding might be insignificant in the present exam, over time a patient’s status may change and incidental findings may be a key indicator of appropriate follow-up care.