Another argument for patient's access to their test results

Hamm, Robert M. (HSC) Robert-Hamm at OUHSC.EDU
Mon Apr 21 13:26:42 UTC 2014

In psychology's terms for the radiology tech's rewards in this situation
  a) paying attention to short term interests of patients (give them relief now), ignoring (possible) different long term outcomes.  Psychologists studying animals and humans behaving find that a hyperbolic intertemporal discount rate more accurately describes the way future rewards or punishments diminish as a function of time until the reward, rather than the exponential rate used in health economics and decision analysis.
  b) and paying attention to own interests rather than the patient's interests, obviously. Get the weeping and anxiety out of my clinic.
  c) and of course, "character" and "ethical behavior". 


Robert M. Hamm, PhD
Clinical Decision Making Program
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
900 NE 10th Street
Oklahoma City OK 73104
405 271 5362 ext 32306       Fax 405 271 2784
robert-hamm at
From: Graber, Mark [Mark.Graber at VA.GOV]
Sent: Sunday, April 20, 2014 10:02 PM
Subject: [IMPROVEDX] Another argument for patient's access to their test results

In a very disturbing story this week, a radiology tech was accused of notifying 1000+ women that their mammagrams were normal, although she didn't know this to be true, and some in fact were not.

Its my understanding that all women are supposed to receive a copy of their test result, and its not exactly clear from this report if the tech just gave women a verbal 'ok', or if she actually altered the radiologist's report.  This is a class of diagnostic error I've never encountered before, but I'm hoping that the directly-mailed results mitigated the tech's false assurances.  If anyone has access to more facts on this case, I'd be interested to hear them.

Mark L Graber, MD FACP
Senior Fellow, RTI International
Professor Emeritus, SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine
Founder and President, Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine

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