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Can patients use test results effectively if they have direct access?

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h673 (Published 11 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h673

Rapid Response:

Re: Can patients use test results effectively if they have direct access?

Patients already use test results to good effect. People with diabetes check their blood sugars, and through education and experience, better manage their condition.

In many ways, direct access to pathology results is not dissimilar to other types of patient self-testing. Asthmatics can use Peak Expiratory Flow Rates to manage their condition. Oxygen saturations, daily weights and blood pressure can be used effectively by patients.

The important step in the process is to agree a plan of action for each result. If the peak flow drops below A do B. If the HbA1C creeps above X then refocus on lifestyle and do Y.

However, imaging results can contain bad news; I would not want patients getting devastating and sometimes speculative results without clinical interpretation.

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 February 2015
Richard L Davies
General Practitioner
Redditch, B96 6DS