Physicians in transition to electronic medical records may be more likely than those with just paper charts to neglect to report abnormal test results to patients, a new study suggests. Research published in Archives of Internal Medicine this week found that doctors in general fail to tell patients about "clinically significant" abnormalities--or at least fail to document the communication in the medical record--about 7 percent of the time.
But in three of the four practices among the 19 studied that had both paper and electronic records, the failure rate was higher. In fact, the two worst scores in the study, 21.5 percent and 26.2 percent, were from practices running dual systems.
The report also found that there are no standard guidelines for managing and communicating test results.