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keep track of your medical tests

What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You Could Be Lethal

New research: Don’t assume your doctor’s office will call you if your test results are abnormal.

By Leah Zerbe

tags: HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY, MEDICAL TESTS



What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You Could Be Lethal

Paper records may be better for patients than some computer systems, a new study suggests.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—As it turns out, no news is not always good news. A new study shows that in one out of 14 abnormal test result cases, the patient was not informed of the irregular result. “You should not assume that no news is good news, even if the doctor’s office says, ‘If you don’t hear from us, it’s OK,’” says Lawrence Casalino, MD, chief of the division of outcomes and effectiveness research in the department of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College. “Even in the best-organized practice, things get lost,” he adds.

THE DETAILS: Dr. Casalino, who himself has 20 years of family physician experience under his belt, knows firsthand how easy it is for test results to fall through the cracks. In his study, just published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, he analyzed 5,434 patient records from 23 physician practices across the country. While some of the practices were nearly perfect, others failed to let patients know of abnormal results 25 percent of the time. For some patients, that failure could be the difference between life and death.

Nor should you assume that your doctor’s fancy-schmancy computer system means the office is on top of things. Researchers found that groups that stuck with simple paper-based processes to manage test results were less likely to forget to inform patients of abnormal results. Electronic records didn’t necessarily prove more successful, and offices using a mix of paper and electronic records had even higher failure-to-inform rates.

To avoid errors, the study authors suggest all test results be routed to the proper physician, who then must sign off on the results. The office should contact patients with the test results no matter what the outcome, and then should document that the patient was called. As a backup, patients should be told to call within a certain time period if they haven’t heard from the doctor’s office.

Published on: June 29, 2009
Updated on: March 11, 2010



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I used some of the very good

I used some of the very good medical advisory sites online so that I was somewhat more knowledgable, and I always requested a follow-up visit for abnormal results to get the doctor's opinion and perspective.Play casino online

little too late

My mother had to deal with mental illness almost all of her adult life and when I was about 12, she started seeing a different psychiatrist and he prescribed an MAO Inhibitor, which is a different classification anti-depressants. They are hardly ever used now, in these days, but back in the 1970's it wasn't uncommon to be prescribed that kind of med. I think the name of the drug was Nardil. My mother told the prescribing doctor about her moderate case of jaundice when she was about six years old. I don't know if the doctor wrote it down or not, but Nardil (or whatever MAO it was) was NOT the appropriate medication for my mother, as it clearly was eating away at her liver, as she continually took it day after day, month after month and year after year. Pretty soon she was diagnosed with irreversible Cirrhosis of the liver!! It was then that the doctor decided to take my mom off all of the meds he had prescribed for her and tried to look like the innocent guy in this troubling mystery. My mother also drank a fair amount and I think it would be safe to say that she was a binge alcoholic. She didn't drink every day, but when she drank, she did it up big.. I know alcohol played a part in my mother's death at a very young age (52), but I am certain that Nardil was also a culprit! We'll never know because my dad never pursued it after my mom died.

Undisclosed, yet Discovered Dysplasia

I just started seeing a new PCP about 4 years ago. I
changed b/c since I got my pap done at each annual
physical by my PCP I decided I wanted to see a female doctor instead of the male doctor I had been
seeing. She seemed nice, intelligent, knowledgable and had a great bed-side manner. I just couldn't believe the amount of time that passed before she told me. Actually I had to ask her for the results before she gave them to me! Well it turned out that my pap smear was positive. I don't mean positive in a good, healthy way. I mean positive in a bad, something's wrong way. I had Dysplasia which are pre
cancerous cells that are found in and around the cervix! They waited for another 6 months before they
did one more pap to see if the Dysplasia was still there or if it worked it's way out, on its own. Unfortunately it didn't resolve itself naturally, so my PCP told me to go to my OB/GYN, to get further
testing, which I did, but I also dropped her as my PCP and went right back to the previous Dr I had, even though dr was a guy. He may have been a guy but
his IQ actually had three digits! I am well now, as I just had my 3rd pap with excellent results!

abnormal test results

I have some experiences with this concern.
After having back surgery, many other health problems seemed to come after me.
Doctors were constantly putting me through tests.After a second lengthy hospitalization, and a dire diagnosis, I got fed up with having to be gently and persistently insistent and getting vague answers. I began dealing directly with the laboratory service myself.My blood and fluids, my health, "Please send a copy of the results directly to me." I began saying . They did.

I used some of the very good medical advisory sites online so that I was somewhat more knowledgable, and I always requested a follow-up visit for abnormal results to get the doctor's opinion and perspective.
This has changed my health for the better.I now know more about what I can do to better help myself get well, and I work hard at it.
Some things you just absolutely must have the doctors' wise advice and that must be followed up on.However, there are many many things that a person can do to doctor themselves;sources like Rodale.com,,Mayo,Prevention Magazine, Harvard, Stanford, and Spine.org and Webmd are tremendously helpful.

However you MUST be mindful of the axiom, "FIRST, DO NO HARM".

Thank you, Rodale.com, for all your good advice.
Carolyn Barker, Naples Maine

Medical Reports, Medical Documents, and so on.

They screw up also, read reports about your diagnosis too,
inaccurate information can be written down or information
written down that is not given to you.

Doctors have too many patients as far as I am concerned.

Assistants can leave screw up and leave an important
document out and never file it. Keep copies.

Medication can be given that is the wrong type
and it can create toxicity. Check with the Pharmacist
first when in doubt.

Take Charge of your health!!!

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