Rates of blood testing in primary care are rising. Communicating blood test results generates significant workload for patients, GPs, and practice staff. This study from Watson et al. explored GPs’ and patients’ experience of systems of blood test communication.
The study found that methods of test result communication varied between doctors and were based on habits, unwritten heuristics, and personal preferences rather than protocols. Doctors expected patients to know how to access their test results. In contrast, patients were often uncertain and used guesswork to decide when and how to access their tests. Patients and doctors generally assumed that the other party would make contact, with potential implications for patient safety. Text messaging and online methods of communication have benefits, but were perceived by some patients as ‘flippant’ or ‘confusing’. Delays and difficulties obtaining and interpreting test results can lead to anxiety and frustration for patients and has important implications for patient-centred care and patient safety.
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