Medscape Today recently wrote an article detailing the physician’s dilemma regarding delivering test results, and how this may differ based whether the results are normal or identify a potentially dangerous problem. Much of the discussion uses PAP smear results as way to discuss the issue: it something women are supposed to do fairly regularly, and the results can be life-changing. In the article, doctors discuss whether a phone call is the best way to deliver results. If so, who should do the calling: the doctor or a nurse? The general conclusion seemed to be that a form letter or nurse’s call is sufficient for normal test results, but that the doctor should do the notification for abnormal results. Interestly, the mode of doctor notification was disagreed upon: some doctors made phone-calls, others required appointments. I found some of the quotes on the topic annoying:
“”Patients with multiple questions are offered an appointment,” says an internist. “I am not going to provide unreimbursed care that includes lengthy phone calls.” An ob/gyn agrees. “If I am going to spend more than 2 minutes talking to a patient, the reality of reimbursement is that it must be a billable visit. The patient needs to come in.”"
I will say that other doctors disagreed and found this practice as gouging as I did. Either way, it’s obvious that the issue is still up for debate. What do you all think? How would you prefer to receive test results? What do you think are your particular healthcare provider’s motivations for delivering news as he or she does?