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Are Doctors Failing to Read Test Results as Patients Head Out the Door?

A recent study that found many doctors fail to read test results before patients are sent home. As San Diego medical malpractice attorneys, we are concerned that this practice can put patients at serious risk.

Researchers examined over 660,000 tests ordered for more than 6,700 patients at a metropolitan hospital. While tests ordered on the day of discharge represented only about 7 percent of all tests ordered, they accounted 47 percent of unread tests at the time of discharge and 41 percent of unread tests two months after discharge, according to lead study author Enrico Coiera, director of the Center for Health Informatics at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation at the University of New South Wales.

As noted by Health Day, the failure to read and act on test results can pose a serious risk for patient care. In some case, important information that should be acted on does not get examined, while, in other cases, the tests could change a diagnosis and patients may be subjected to unnecessary tests that could have been avoided.

The researchers note that many test results fall through the cracks because hospitals do not have policies and procedures in place to track test results and make sure they are followed up on before a patient is discharged from hospital or transferred to another facility.

In the meantime, patients should keep track of their own tests and speak up if they fail to receive their tests results before they are discharged.