IT Solutions Can Improve Clinician Laboratory Test Follow-Up

October 1, 2012 | Evaluations & Guidance


An August 2012 commentary published in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s WebM&Mdescribes how well-designed automated results management systems can help ensure timely follow-up of ambulatory test results, which can lead to improved patient safety. Research indicates that nearly a quarter of all medical errors that occur in ambulatory settings are the result of inadequate follow-up of abnormal test results.

The commentary, titled “No News May Not Be Good News,” describes a case in which a woman brought her 10-year-old daughter to see a pediatrician regarding a 15 lb weight loss over a three-month period. Because the physical examination proved unremarkable, the physician sent the patient for bloodwork, which was performed on a Thursday morning. The following Monday afternoon, at the request of the patient’s mother, the physician checked the test results and found that the patient’s glucose level was dangerously high. The clinic, which did not have an electronic health record (EHR) system, had been faxed the urgent results on Saturday, but the clinician on duty did not see the results for unknown reasons. The patient was treated over the next few days, including daily visits...

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