Managing Urgent and Life Threatening Test Results

Managing Urgent and Life Threatening Test Results

Thursday 17 October 2013


Two recent Court cases highlighted the importance of having appropriate procedures in place to deal with urgent and life threatening test results which need to be communicated to a patient.


Summary points


  • Failures in the follow up of urgent results, e.g. raised troponin or grossly elevated INR, have been the subject of criticism in Coronial Inquests where patients have suffered harm through a lack of robust systems for communicating urgent information
  • Ensure you keep patient and referring doctor (if applicable) contact details up to date
  • If a patient cannot be contacted to inform them of urgent and life threatening results, you should contact the patient’s ‘in case of emergency’ contact or family member, or the police and/or ambulance service
  • Seek advice from your medical defence organisation if uncertain about how to proceed in a particular case.


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