Primary care guide to managing a breast mass: a legal perspective on risk management

Medscape Womens Health. 1998 Oct;3(5):3.


Failure to diagnose breast cancer in a timely manner is the most common reason for malpractice litigation in the US, and it is the most costly claim made against physicians. Common reasons for delay of diagnosis include unimpressive physical findings, failure to follow up with the patient, and a negative mammogram report. Equally important for quality patient care and for defense against malpractice suits is thorough documentation of history, examination, test results, recommendations, and patient interactions. This article provides guidelines with case studies that stress the importance of effective documentation and communication with the patient and offers recommendations for risk management.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Diagnostic Errors*
  • Documentation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liability, Legal*
  • Malpractice
  • Medical Records / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Medical Records / standards
  • Patient Compliance
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Risk Management*