Study: Doctors often fail to inform patients of abnormal test results

August 21, 2009

Primary care doctors or staff neglect to inform patients of at least 1 out of every 14 abnormal test results.

Primary care doctors or staff neglect to inform patients of at least 1 out of every 14 abnormal test results, according to a June study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Authors reviewed the medical records of 5,434 randomly selected patients aged 50 to 69 in 23 primary care practices (19 community-based and four affiliated with academic medical centers).

The reviewers identified 1,889 abnormal test results and 135 apparent failures to inform the patient or to document informing the patient-a rate of 7.1 percent, or about one of every 14 tests. Most of the practices that failed to report did not have explicit rules for notifying patients of results.