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Incorporating a Tracking System in Your Practice

Missing or mismanagement of test results or consults as a result of an obsolete tracking process can potentially lead to harmful errors, resulting in delays in diagnoses, errors in diagnoses, or even a failure to diagnose, all leading causes of malpractice claims.

More often than not, patient harm is a result of system failure or deficiency. If a tracking system is not being utilized consistently it can lead to failed communication, patient harm, and patient dissatisfaction. 

Missing or mismanagement of test results or consults as a result of an obsolete tracking process can potentially lead to harmful errors, resulting in delays in diagnoses, errors in diagnoses, or even a failure to diagnose, all leading causes of malpractice claims. Why? A delay or failure to diagnose causes the patient to lose the opportunity for timely treatment.

Tracking systems can be manual or electronic; whatever works best for your office. The key is that it is used consistently.

Keep Components of Tracking Systems

  • Tracking repeat testing due to abnormal or clinically relevant results
  • Identifying patients who are referred for outside consultations
  • Capturing follow up visits, procedures, and/or tests due in the future
  • Reminding you and your patients of preventative screening tests

Developing or managing your tracking system should include input from all the staff. Everyone should agree to follow the same protocols. Once you have developed your policy statement, the procedure portion of your policy should detail:

  • How to contact the patient
  • How to document the follow-up in the patient’s chart
  • Time frames for expected receipt of test results
  • Protocol for handling delayed or missing reports
  • HIPAA compliance
  • Timelines for notifying patients upon receipt of information
  • Protocol for handling urgent test results

Like any system, the tracking system should be audited periodically and updated as necessary.

When you are using a tracking system, remember that the patient should remain active in that system until:

  • Documentation confirms that the patient has been contacted with the results of the testing and provided appropriate instructions
  • Documentation from the consultant is received
  • Documentation verifies informed refusal to follow recommended instructions

A sample tracking system is available on our website. This is a generic form which can be modified and customized for your specialty. Contact PSIC for questions about our sample tracking system or other questions relating to a tracking system in your practice.

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