We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
Article |

Patient Notification and Follow-up of Abnormal Test Results A Physician Survey

Emily A. Boohaker, MD; Richard E. Ward, MD, MBA; Jane E. Uman, MPH; Bruce D. McCarthy, MD, MPH
Arch Intern Med. 1996;156(3):327-331. doi:10.1001/archinte.1996.00440030133016.
Text Size: A A A
Published online


Objective:  To investigate physician practices in the handling of patients' test results from the time the test was ordered until the time any required follow-up was completed.

Methods:  Survey of 161 attending physicians and 101 residents in family practice and internal medicine practicing at a large urban teaching hospital and 21 suburban primary care practices in Southeastern Michigan. The survey included questions about physician demographics, and whether physicians have methods for ensuring that (1) the results of all tests ordered are received, (2) all patients are notified of results, (3) all patient notification is documented, and (4) all required follow-up is done. Physicians were also asked to self-rate the reliability of their methods and the importance of various steps in the handling of patients' test results.

Results:  The response rate was 79% for both attending physicians and residents. Approximately 17% to 32% of physicians reported having no reliable method to make sure that the results of all tests ordered are received. One third of physicians do not always notify patients of abnormal results. The most common reasons reported for not notifying patients were that the results were trivial and that the patient was expected to return to the clinic soon. Residents were significantly less likely to document notifying patients of abnormal results (P<.001). Only 23% of physicians reported having a reliable method for identifying patients overdue for follow-up.

Conclusions:  Lack of methods to ensure that the results of tests ordered were received, dependence on follow-up visits to inform patients of results, and lack of documentation were relatively common among physicians surveyed. These could lead to an increased risk of malpractice litigation and suboptimal patient care.(Arch Intern Med. 1996;156:327-331)


Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?





Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

49 Citations

Sign in

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal
• Rent this article ?

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.