Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Head To Head Head to Head

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?

The European Federation for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine established a Working Group on Patient Focused Laboratory Medicine that has conducted surveys of professionals and patients across Europe. There is resistance by some professionals to making results available directly to patients, in some cases this is regulatory, but is generally due to doubts that patients will understand the significance of results, others are very supportive.

In a separate survey of out-patients we found the vast majority of patients that responded were interested in receiving their results directly.

Pilot studies have shown that with appropriate explanatory, individualised comments patients generated by the laboratory appreciate better the significance of their results. However work needs to be done on how such comments can be made and are compatible with their responsible physician's advice.

Comprehension would be better if colour coding and graphics were used rather than number sets as physicians now receive them.

Competing interests: No competing interests

23 March 2015
Ian D Watson
Clinical Director (retired); Chair EFLM Working Group on Patient Focused Laboratory Medicine
European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM)
C/o EFLM, Via Carlo Farini 81, Milan, I-20159, Italy