Hospitals Often Fail to Follow Up on Tests, Study Says
Findings point to a 'substantial problem, which impacts on patients' safety'
TUESDAY, Feb. 8, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- As many as 75 percent of hospital tests are not followed up and this failure can have serious consequences for patients, including delayed or missed diagnoses and even death, according to a new study.
Researchers analyzed 12 international studies and found that between 20 percent and 61 percent of inpatient test results, and between 1 percent and 75 percent of tests on emergency care patients, were not followed up after patients were discharged.
Follow-up was least likely for critical test results and results for patients moving between health care settings, such as from inpatient to outpatient care or to general practice.
Rates of missed results were equally high for paper-based records systems, fully electronic systems and those that used a combination of paper and electronic records.
The study is published Feb. 8 in the journal BMJ Quality and Safety.
"There is evidence to suggest that the proportion of missed test results is a substantial problem, which impacts on patients' safety," the researchers concluded in a journal news release.
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers patients tips about medical tests.