Evidence continues to pile up for why patients need to read their own medical records. A new study finds it is distressingly common for primary care practices, especially big ones, to fail to inform patients about abnormal test results.
The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and was reported by Nicholas Bakalar in the New York Times. The study was also featured in Tara Parker-Pope’s “Well” blog at the Times, which features a number of horror story comments by readers.
Overall, the study found seven times out of 100, abnormal test results were not conveyed to patients. In two large primary care practices, one in four abnormal test results were never mentioned to the patient.
Bottom line: Patients who don’t hear back the results of their testing can never assume that no news is good news. People need to ask for a copy of their test results from either the doctor’s office or the lab where the test was done.
Getting and reading your own medical records is Step One in the nine-step system I recommend for getting the best medical care, in my book, “The Life You Save: Nine Steps to Finding the Best Medical Care — and Avoiding the Worst.”