Q. What Is More Dangerous for People than Hospitals in the U.S.?

A. Doctors Who Fail to Follow-up on Laboratory and Radiology Reports.

We already know from U.S. government statistics and reported in multiple sources that the American medical system is the second or third leading cause of death and injury in America. Now a review of 19 studies carried out in the United States and published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found “up to 62 percent of laboratory tests and up to 36 percent of radiology reports are not being followed up by US doctors for patients attended GPs, clinics or hospital outpatient departments.”

The study, conducted at the University of New South Wales (interesting that it was not done by an American institution), also found a great variety in these failures depending upon the type of health care provider and the condition studied. There was a “range of 6.8 to 62 percent of lab tests and one to 36 percent of radiology results not followed up by health care professionals, including the identification of maliginancies.” These failures increase the risks of delayed treatment or what is sometimes even worse, wrong treatment. The study also noted that because other countries may follow similar management practices, the failures may be worldwide.

One recommendation in the study was something this blog has advocated in the past–releasing test results directly to patients. Patients must be proactive in taking care of their own health. This includes always getting copies not only of lab tests, but also the notes that doctors make after each patient visit. That is where patients discover misunderstandings or even serious mistakes reported.

 If this is the situation now, what will Americans face, particularly seniors, when the full dangers of ObamaCare take effect?