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The Cost of a Misdiagnosis

What are the implications of heading down the wrong treatment path based on an incorrect cancer diagnosis? According to Leslie Lockridge, MD who owns Northeast Kingdom Hematology Oncology in Newport “the best case scenario is that I give the patient the wrong information. The patient has the wrong expectations going forward. Possibly, I consent the patient to the wrong chemotherapy.”

During September 2015, Rob Gibson, vice president of marketing and business development at VITL sat down with Dr. Lockridge and some of his staff members to talk about how he is integrating VITLAccess, the secure statewide provider portal to the Vermont Health Information Exchange, into the workflow at his practice. Northeast Kingdom Hematology Oncology is a multispecialty practice that includes hematology, oncology and general medicine. Additional providers include a psychiatric nurse practitioner, a nurse practitioner who sees patients for acute needs, an ear, nose and throat surgeon and an occupational medicine practice.

Dr. Lockridge shared how, in the treatment of a patient, there is often one piece of information that is important to your next move. If that information is not at hand, it can hold up everything. VITLAccess is helping to fill those gaps of information by providing Dr. Lockridge and his staff with the ability to search all of the available information on a patient through a single, statewide portal. Without VITLAccess, a provider’s ability to get that information is highly variable. Lockride quipped “you might get someone on the phone” but acknowledged that any delay in diagnosis can be emotionally traumatic for the patient.

When asked about a specific use of VITLAccess, Dr. Lockridge recalled a recent patient where the referral had indicated rectal cancer. By having access to the actual pathology report through VITLAccess Dr. Lockridge quickly discovered that the correct diagnosis was anal cancer which is treated in a very different manner. Timely access to this information proved to be crucial in providing the proper treatment and care for this patient as well as saving the emotional stress and financial costs of an incorrect treatment.

Watch the Video Interview