Provided by: Jennifer Kirschenbaum, Esq.
February 13, 2018
Am I obligated to report test results to a patient?
- Jennifer K.
First time for the newsletter - using my patient experience. Brought my son to the ENT. Alien mucus rooted in his sinuses. Culture taken. I asked when I would receive the results. I was told I would not receive them unless I called the practice and asked for the doctor. Next question: Does the doctor have set office hours when he might be available? No. He may get back to you within the few days following. So, if I don't call, do I get the results? No. No? No. We do not call or notify of results if you do not call. I have to say, I loved and hated this interaction so. What liability!?! What offense?!? Leads to our question of the day - what obligation is there to report results?
For our purposes, the easiest place to start for a professional standard is the AMA. According to accepted AMA Ethics opinion on this topic -
"Patients should be able to be confident that they will receive the results of clinical tests in a timely fashion."
Who delivers the results can vary. Many are now alerting electronically. That's fine. However, you do have an obligation to notify. https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/reporting-clinical-test-results