December 14, 2011

Should Patients Get Direct Access to Their Laboratory Test Results?An Answer With Many Questions

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Houston Veteran Affairs Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Medicine, Section of Health Services Research, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

JAMA. 2011;306(22):2502-2503. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1797

In the outpatient setting, between 8% and 26% of abnormal test results, including those suspicious for malignancy, are not followed up in a timely manner.1,2 Despite the use of electronic health records (EHRs) to facilitate communication of test results, follow-up remains a significant safety challenge. In an effort to mitigate delays, some systems have adopted a time-delayed direct notification of test results to patients (ie, releasing them after 3 to 7 days to allow physicians to review them).3,4

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