A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates that important test results including cholesterol blood work, mammograms, Pap smears and screening tests for colon cancer are not always shared with patients. According to an Associated Press report, “the first study of its kind finds doctors failed to inform patients of abnormal cancer screenings and other test results 1 out of 14 times.”
“Our goal is not to indict physicians. It’s about working smarter and getting processes in place.” said researcher Dr. Daniel Dunham who was interviewed for the report. In many cases, medical offices had no system in place for informing patients of test results. Offices with computer based systems fared worse in many cases than those without.
Both Dunham and fellow researcher Dr. Lawrence Casalino explained that the test results in question were those in which “any doctor would agree patients should be informed.” Physicians were also given an opportunity to explain when medical charts did not indicate that patients had been contacted with information about potentially harmful medical test results.
The study underscores the importance of patient involvement and self-advocacy. “If you’ve had a test, whether it be blood test or some kind of X-ray or ultrasound, don’t assume because you haven’t heard from your physician that the result is normal,” Casalino said.
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