Medical Test Follow-Ups Fall Through the Cracks

As many as three in four hospital medical tests are not followed up: study

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) As many as three in four hospital medical tests are not followed up after patients' discharge, according to a new systematic review published in BMJ Quality of Safety.

The review of information culled from 12 studies published between 1990 and 2010 shows the failure to follow up can result in delayed diagnoses and even death. The researchers found between 20 percent and 61 percent of inpatient test results, and between 1 percent and 75 percent of tests on emergency-room patients were not followed up after discharge.

The rates for follow-up failure were highest for patients moving between healthcare settings, such as from inpatient to general practice or outpatient care.

The study also looked at clinical negligence claims and found 79 of the 112 claims (about two-thirds) involved missing diagnoses in ER settings that caused patients harm.

Common ER tests include urine samples, blood tests, electrocardiogram for cardiac problems, X-rays and computer tomography (CT) scans.

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Review Date: 
February 8, 2011
Last Updated:
February 9, 2011