Explaining laboratory test results to patients: what the clinician needs to know
- By: Maurice John O’Kane, Berenice Lopez
Better understanding by patients of why tests are performed and what the results mean increases satisfaction with care.1234 Patients increasingly have direct access to their test results through online portals. Although patients may discuss test results with family and friends or seek information on the internet,5 the responsibility for explaining test results lies with clinicians. Discussions must take into account the patient’s literacy and numeracy level, and clinicians should explain clearly what the results mean and how they influence treatment choices.
It is crucial to understand why a test was done to understand the meaning of its result. The following are common reasons for testing: