Failure to Follow-Up Test Results for Ambulatory Patients: A Systematic Review
ABSTRACT Serious lapses in patient care result from failure to follow-up test results.
To systematically review evidence quantifying the extent of failure to follow-up test results and the impact for ambulatory patients.
Medline, CINAHL, Embase, Inspec and the Cochrane Database were searched for English-language literature from 1995 to 2010.
Studies which provided documented quantitative evidence of the number of tests not followed up for patients attending ambulatory settings including: outpatient clinics, academic medical or community health centres, or primary care practices.
Four reviewers independently screened 768 articles.
Nineteen studies met the inclusion criteria and reported wide variation in the extent of tests not followed-up: 6.8% (79/1163) to 62% (125/202) for laboratory tests; 1.0% (4/395) to 35.7% (45/126) for radiology. The impact on patient outcomes included missed cancer diagnoses. Test management practices varied between settings with many individuals involved in the process. There were few guidelines regarding responsibility for patient notification and follow-up. Quantitative evidence of the effectiveness of electronic test management systems was limited although there was a general trend towards improved test follow-up when electronic systems were used.
Most studies used medical record reviews; hence evidence of follow-up action relied upon documentation in the medical record. All studies were conducted in the US so care should be taken in generalising findings to other countries.
Failure to follow-up test results is an important safety concern which requires urgent attention. Solutions should be multifaceted and include: policies relating to responsibility, timing and process of notification; integrated information and communication technologies facilitating communication; and consideration of the multidisciplinary nature of the process and the role of the patient. It is essential that evaluations of interventions are undertaken and solutions integrated into the work and context of ambulatory care delivery.
SourceAvailable from: Hardeep Singh[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Patients are increasingly using the Internet to communicate with health care providers and access general and personal health information. Missed test results have been identified as a critical safety issue with studies showing up to 75% of tests for emergency department (ED) patients not being followed-up. One strategy that could reduce the likelihood of important results being missed is for ED patients to have direct access to their test results. This could be achieved electronically using a patient portal tied to the hospital's electronic medical record or accessed from the relevant laboratory information system. Patients have expressed interest in accessing test results directly, but there have been no reported studies on emergency physicians' opinions. The aim was to explore emergency physicians' current practices of test result notification and attitudes to direct patient notification of clinically significant abnormal and normal test results. A cross-sectional survey was self-administered by senior emergency physicians (site A: n=50; site B: n=39) at 2 large public metropolitan teaching hospitals in Australia. Outcome measures included current practices for notification of results (timing, methods, and responsibilities) and concerns with direct notification. The response rate was 69% (61/89). More than half of the emergency physicians (54%, 33/61) were uncomfortable with patients receiving direct notification of abnormal test results. A similar proportion (57%, 35/61) was comfortable with direct notification of normal test results. Physicians were more likely to agree with direct notification of normal test results if they believed it would reduce their workload (OR 5.72, 95% CI 1.14-39.76). Main concerns were that patients could be anxious (85%, 52/61), confused (92%, 56/61), and lacking in the necessary expertise to interpret their results (90%, 55/61). Although patients' direct access to test results could serve as a safety net reducing the likelihood of abnormal results being missed, emergency physicians' concerns need further exploration: which results are suitable and the timing and method of direct release to patients. Methods of access, including secure Web-based patient portals with drill-down facilities providing test descriptions and result interpretations, or laboratories sending results directly to patients, need evaluation to ensure patient safety is not compromised and the processes fit with ED clinician and laboratory work practices and patient needs.Journal of Medical Internet Research 01/2015; 17(3):e60. DOI:10.2196/jmir.3721 · 4.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The translation of science to practice to policy for meaningful use of healthcare information system (HIS) is embedded in a complex milieu of meaningful, meaningless, non- and mis-use of the system by a variety of stakeholders seeking to manage the cost, quality, safety, and parity of healthcare. The problem of HIS use can be modeled as an ontology which encapsulates the core logic of use. The ontology includes the three components of translation, the four types of use, the key stakeholders, and the four basic outcomes. It is a comprehensive structured natural-language model which can be extended and refined. It is parsimonious and can be easily understood and interpreted by all the stakeholders. We argue that such a model is necessary to develop a roadmap for strengthening the meaningful use of HIS. In its absence meaningful use of HIS will be weak.SSRN Electronic Journal 01/2014; DOI:10.2139/ssrn.2408854
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: To determine physician perspectives about direct notification of normal and abnormal test results. We conducted a cross-sectional survey at five clinical sites in the US and Australia. The US-based study was conducted via web-based survey of primary care physicians and specialists between July and October 2012. An identical paper-based survey was self-administered between June and September 2012 with specialists in Australia. Of 1417 physicians invited, 315 (22.2%) completed the survey. Two-thirds (65.3%) believed that patients should be directly notified of normal results, but only 21.3% were comfortable with direct notification of clinically significant abnormal results. Physicians were more likely to endorse direct notification of abnormal results if they believed it would reduce the number of patients lost to follow-up (OR=4.98, 95%CI=2.21-1.21) or if they had personally missed an abnormal test result (OR=2.95, 95%CI=1.44-6.02). Conversely, physicians were less likely to endorse if they believed that direct notification interfered with the practice of medicine (OR=0.39, 95%CI=0.20-0.74). Physicians we surveyed generally favor direct notification of normal results but appear to have substantial concerns about direct notification of abnormal results. Widespread use of direct notification should be accompanied by strategies to help patients manage test result abnormalities they receive. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd.Patient Education and Counseling 02/2015; 167. DOI:10.1016/j.pec.2015.02.011 · 2.60 Impact Factor