Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Patients Not Informed of Abnormal Lab Results

A study published last month in the Archives of Internal Medicine reveals primary care practices sometimes do not inform patients of abnormal lab results or do not keep a record of the patient being informed. About 1 of every 14 abnormal tests was not reported to the patient.

I tell all my patients to request a copy of their lab results and have the doctor review it with them. It's pretty easy to determine if one of your readings is too high or low because it will fall outside the normal ranges and appear in a separate column or will be highlighted. Make sure you understand what that means.

My own mother was a victim of non-disclosure of her lab results. The tests showed a high probability of aggressive cancer. Her doctor told my brother, a physician, that everything was alright and he took the doctor's word for it. More than a year passed and indeed an aggressive cancer spread throughout my mother's body. By the time surgery and chemo were scheduled it was really too late to stop it. We only found out the truth about the lab results by accident.

This is why I always reccomend that my patients actually see their results and discuss them with the doctor. You must insist upon it! It could save your life.

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