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PSA Testing and Malpractice

By Jock Hoffman, CRICO

Through the lens of medical malpractice, the efficacy of PSA testing is only a sidebar to the factors that prompted someone to allege a missed diagnosis of prostate cancer. Most often, such cases hinge on how the test results and the patient were managed by the patient’s primary care provider (PCP) once PSA testing was initiated. In some instances, the patient was unaware that a PSA test had been ordered or uniformed of the results (or both). Here are some recent CRICO data.

cases failing to diagnose prostate cancer

While the debate about PSA testing continues to generate recommendations and counter recommendations, PCPs can look to a couple of recently closed CRICO malpractice cases for practical lessons that can reduce the likelihood of being sued by patients who contend their prostate cancer diagnosis was missed or delayed.

Of course, it should all begin with a physician-patient discussion about testing. But once the decision to test has begun, PCPs cannot afford to leave the follow-up tasks to memory, other providers, or the patient.

Malpractice case studies present an important opportunity for providers to learn by exploring what went right, what went wrong, and what could have been done differently. Staff from CRICO’s Patient Safety Department continually select and develop case studies (of closed claims or lawsuits) that offer teaching opportunities. More than 80 such case studies are available on the CRICO web site. Clinician facilitators who choose to incorporate abstracts from malpractice claims into their clinical presentations may want to read the suggestions offered in Ten Tips for Presenting Closed Claims Abstracts for Grand Rounds.

Additional Material

  • PSA Testing for Prostate Cancer: A CRICO Decision Support Tool

May 31, 2012
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