Another argument for patient's access to their test results

Peggy Zuckerman peggyzuckerman at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 21 16:18:12 UTC 2014

Quite similar to this is the very frequent situation in which a patient is
told re the blood labs, "We'll call if there is a problem; otherwise, don't
expect to hear from us".  Stats indicate that some 15-18% of labs with
abnormalities are not reported to patients.  With the millions of tests
done, that percentage reveals a tremendous weakness in our system, and
another reason to be pro-active in getting and reviewing one's own labs.

Moreover, that statistic does not indicate whether the reported problems
suggested by the abnormal labs ever trigger the proper follow up, not to
mention are used efficiently in the diagnosis.  Case in point:  a PSA test
is higher than normal, and patient is told to see specialist.  Is there a
formal referral, are the abnormal labs provided to the new specialist, are
new labs prescibed, does the GP inform expect and prepare for a response
from the specialist?  No stats on any of that, which are certainly "delayed
diagnosis" incidents.

If these labs and the value of them were EXPLAINED to patients, so that
they understood the importance of the abnormal reading, more appropriate
follow up by both patient and doctor would happen.

Peggy Zuckerman

On Sun, Apr 20, 2014 at 8:02 PM, Graber, Mark <Mark.Graber at> wrote:

> 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
> Moderator: Lorri Zipperer Lorri at, Communication co-chair, Society
> for Improving Diagnosis in Medicine
> To unsubscribe from the IMPROVEDX list, click the following link:<br>
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> </a>
> </p>

Peggy Zuckerman

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