Study Finds That Doctors Do Not Always Report Significant Test Findings
Posted on Jun 23, 2009
Many of us believe that if a medical test is abnormal that the doctor will notify us promptly once the results reach our doctor's office. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
A recent study led by Dr. Lawrence Casalino of Weill Cornell Medical College found that abnormal lab or x-ray results were not always communicated to the patient. Approximately seven percent of the abnormal results were not. Practices that used electronic medical records were more likely to report adverse results than those that only had paper documents. Medical practices that used a combination of paper and computer records were the least likely to report significant abnormal results.
The study underscores how important it is for a primary care physician to have a definite protocol for this situation. The protocol should make sure that the results are directed to the responsible doctor, the doctor notes that he or she has reviewed the result, and the office staff documents that the results have been communicated to the patient. As a patient, if you do not hear back from the doctor about test results, do not assume that the test results were negative. If you have not heard within a week,
always call the office and find out for yourself.