Table 4. Reported Method of Communicating Normal/Clinically Insignificant Abnormal and Abnormal Laboratory Results to Patients, by Urban versus Rural Practice Location*
Method of Communicating ResultsPractices That Always/Often Use Method, n (%)
Normal and clinically insignificant abnormal results
    Personal call from clinician127 (40)22 (31)
    Medical assistant/nurse phone call to patient125 (4056 (80)
    Patient instructed to call62 (20)19 (27)
    Patient to assume test is normal if not notified94 (30)11 (17)
    Send personal note72 (23)17 (24)
    Send form letter to patient145 (46)30 (43)
    Mail copy of test results138 (44)15 (21)
    Results available on secure website for patients to access58 (19)1 (1)
    Results emailed to patients15 (5)0 (0)
    Results available on automated phone-in system2 (<1)0 (0)
    Results available during patient visit153 (50)53 (75)
    Laboratory center directly notifies patient4 (1)1 (1)
Clinically significant abnormal results
    Personal call from clinician257 (82)47 (67)
    Medical assistant/nurse phone call to patient124 (40)53 (76)
    Patient instructed to call49 (17)19 (28)
    Send personal note43 (14)9 (13)
    Results available on secure website for patients to access47 (16)1 (1)
    Results emailed to patients15 (5)0 (0)
    Results available on automated phone-in system5 (1)0 (0)
    Send form letter to patient65 (22)20 (29)
    Mail copy of test results93 (31)11 (16)
    Results available during patient visit124 (42)45 (64)
    Laboratory center directly notifies patient5 (2)2 (3)
  • Bold indicates significant different between clinicians and staff and managers.

  • * Analysis was confined to responses from the 17 practices with an internal response rate of at least 70%, by role.

  • Row percentages for each notification method could be <100% because not every respondent selected each method.

  • Respondents to the survey (clinicians, staff, and managers) were able to select all notification methods that apply to their practice; therefore, column percentages may be >100%.