Profession

Study shows problems managing test results

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted July 20, 2009

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An analysis of four Ohio family medicine practices revealed that none consistently adhered to officewide management practices for handling patients' test results, although two had written protocols or procedures, according to a study in the July/August Annals of Family Medicine (link).

Family physicians and general practitioners order lab tests in 29% to 38% of patient visits and imaging studies in 10% to 12% of visits, researchers said. For more than a decade, primary care physicians have reported that systems for reporting results to patients are unsatisfactory.

Researchers identified two key components for a high-quality results management system: an awareness of safety, which was often exemplified by strong practice leadership and open communication; and the adoption of appropriate technology to follow-through on test results, rather than relying on staff memory.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/07/20/prbf0720.htm.

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