Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Increasing Patient Notification of Test Results in an Internal Medicine Resident Continuity Clinic

Academic Article


  • Objectives Informing patients of their test results is an important patient safety issue, yet many physicians perform dismally in this regard. Residents often face additional barriers to communicating test results to patients. We wanted to determine whether streamlining the notification process, communicating expectations, and having residents audit their performance would increase result notification rates. Methods We used a quasi-experimental design, and a single-group before-and-after intervention. Our multifold intervention consisted of development and standardization of a notification process in the electronic medical record, an education component, and a self-audit component. During a 15-minute session, we educated residents on the use of the new process. We also restated expectations regarding notifying patients of their results. Residents audited their own charts for a period before the intervention and during a second, postintervention period. An independent review of notification rates took place simultaneously as well as during an additional period several months later. Results In total, 87 residents were eligible for participation. All 87 completed the project, giving a 100% participation rate. Resident-reported laboratory test notification rates increased from 16% to 91%; other test result rates increased from 33% to 84%. The three independent reviews showed laboratory test notification rates increased from 18.5% to 71.7% to 87.1%, and notification of other test results increased from 23.5% to 66.7% to 91.7%. Conclusions Baseline rates of notification for diagnostic tests results were low, but streamlining the notification process, clearly stating expectations for using it, and using resident self-audit can improve notification rates.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 20421049
  • Author List

  • Benton W; Snyder ED; Estrada CA; Bryan TJ
  • Start Page

  • 85
  • End Page

  • 88
  • Volume

  • 112
  • Issue

  • 2