This series highlights common medicolegal issues in general practice. Written by a team from medical defence organisation Avant, the scenarios are based on a range of previous cases with details changed for privacy and some issues summarised for discussion. In this scenario, a medical clinic is sued by the family of a patient who died after a failure to follow up pathology testing and specialist referral.
A medical practitioner’s obligation to follow up on a patient’s care may continue after the patient leaves the consultation. When doctors order tests because they are concerned about a potentially serious clinical condition, they should monitor whether the patient has had the test. If failure to follow up clinically significant tests leads to patient harm, the medical practitioner may be found negligent or guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct.