“Looking at the answer without knowing the question”

I remember as a junior doctor wading through piles (it was all paper in those days) of urine and wound swab results etc as part of my morning duties. Often the patient was not known to me, or due to the time taken for the result to come back I had forgotten what the reason was for ordering it in the first place. This makes interpretation very difficult. In essence you are to some extent managing the result, not the patient.

I am sure this still happens these days, and probably a lot more often than you would think.

The answer of course, is not only to make clinical details a pre-requisite on request forms (my mission to achieve this at my own labs is progressing slowly but surely) but also to present on the result whatever clinical details that were written on the original request form.

In this way the clinician can be reminded of the reason for requesting the test in the first place and can therefore interpret the result more accurately within the clinical context.

If clinical details are on a paper request form then it is time consuming to transcribe all these into the LIS, not to mention they may not always be legible. So I think there is an excuse for people/labs who currently use paper forms.

However once electronic requesting becomes established, there is no excuse….

CT scan results at my local hospital are reported in this fashion, always with the clinical details/reason for imaging at the start of the result report. Sadly, by looking at CT scan results, is often how I get some clinical details to help interpret microbiology results.

It is vital that the vision for microbiology follows along the same lines as CT reporting, presenting the clinical details as part of the result.



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