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Stepwise Success

We Never Got The Result

Published August 20, 2014 6:04 AM by Scott Warner

“We never got the result!” is our most common complaint, followed closely by “My doctor never got the result!” It is frequently delivered in an accusatory tone instead of the more accurate “We can’t find it. Did you send it?” Or even, “Did you perform the test?”

We hear the latter once in a while. We look up the patient who hasn’t been seen in our hospital since 2008, and on the other end of the telephone a frustrated office working just hangs up in exasperation. Or the patient was seen, but we didn’t perform the test because it wasn’t ordered. Or it was ordered, but it wasn’t sent in time. Etc.

Our most bizarre complaint was from a physician who claimed he ordered a free T4 and we performed a total T4. Since we don’t have T4 on our test menu, I couldn’t figure out at first what he was angry about. He berated me for a few minutes while I looked at the report. It turned out that he confused a CPSI interface code (T4) with the name of the test (Free T4); both appeared on the report, viz.

[T4]         Free T4    __

Clearly, he only saw the interface code. He still insisted we had run the wrong test and demanded that we redraw the patient.

Along with confused, frustrated, or angry telephone calls, this kind of failure is expensive. Physicians reorder tests or demand that they be collected or sent elsewhere if they aren’t done or the report is missing, translating into extra cost or lost revenue. Over time, these events whittle away a lab’s reputation and bottom line.

As partners in the patient’s healthcare, we can be treated like an obstacle, blamed for not doing a test that the doctor didn’t order. But many of our customers are genuinely frustrated. They may have no idea what lab work has been ordered by other providers or if the patient has complied. And sometimes they really don’t get a report when they should. As a fee for service business, how can a lab possibly fix this?

NEXT: How Can I Help?

posted by Scott Warner


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About this Blog

    Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP)
    Occupation: Laboratory Manager
    Setting: Critical Access Hospital
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