Performance matters: Management of results and correspondence

The LMC is regularly involved in representing and supporting doctors who have been identified as having “performance” issues. The LMC has identified a number of themes which recur, and this regular feature will highlight these, so that our members can avoid these pitfalls.

A case recently involved a patient coming to harm due to delay of action of abnormal blood results.

Having a robust system for results management is one element CQC are very keen to explore when they inspect practices.

CQC state:
“Failure to follow up test results can be identified as a major problem in primary care settings. This can seriously affect patient care, including delays in diagnosis and effective treatment."

"Having effective practice protocols and standardised processes can protect patients.”

While CQC do not specify what systems should be in place, they would expect a practice system for results and correspondence management to cover:

  • ordering tests and investigations
  • ensuring patients attend and following them up if they do not, including appropriate recall systems
  • checking and identifying when results come back – and taking action when they do not
  • processing results in timely way. This includes when:
    • clinicians are absent
    • you receive results following requests made by short-term locums
  • informing patients of the results
  • recording and filing results appropriately and accurately
  • ensuring appropriate follow-up of results and action-taking when results are abnormal.

As clinicians we “are responsible for making sure they act on results that alter patient management.” While not all colleagues will be directly involved in creation of this practice system, we should all make ourselves aware of the system in our practices.

While we all work in a very busy role, we should try to ensure that we are managing these results in a timely and safe manner, with clear communication to our patients.

Having such a system is not only important for patient safety, but help protects the practice and clinician from complaints, litigation and regulatory scrutiny.

For more detailed information as to what your practice may wish to consider in the management of results and correspondence see the comprehensive CQC mythbsuter 46.

First Published
24 April 2024
Updated On
24 April 2024
Due to be Reviewed
24 April 2026
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