If you work in the health-care field, lab testing and results may seem like yesterday's news. Often, when we approach patients or their families with lab test results, we unknowingly neglect the fact that not everyone has the same medical background we do. There are a variety of different blood tests that a health-care provider can order, so it is up to you to share that information in an accurate and concise way.
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Review the blood tests done on the patient.
Note any abnormal or potentially critical values.
Make notes of anything that may coincide with what the health-care provider was potentially looking for, making sure to note any normal lab results.
Introduce yourself if you are unfamiliar with the patient or the patient's family. Explain who you are and state your role in providing care or assisting the patient.
Tell the patient/family what tests were done. Make sure that you briefly explain what each test measures, and what the key things are that you look for in this specific lab test.
Speak slowly and alert the patient/family to any abnormal test results. Explain what the normal range for the blood test is, and what these abnormal results could mean. Never diagnose the patient as having a disease or condition based solely on lab results.
Mention if any test results are within the acceptable range for that blood test. Based on your medical knowledge, tell how this may or may not affect abnormal test results.
List the potential problems associated with the abnormal lab values.
Explaining the Blood Tests
Take a second and pause after explaining the blood test results to patients or their families. This will allow them time to collect their thoughts and form any questions they may have.
Allow the patient/family to ask questions about anything that may seem unclear, or that they may not understand. Answer their questions as honestly as possible.
Talk about the plan of action. If a test mandates a course of action to be taken, lay out what it may be. This allows the patient/family to rest assured knowing that something is going to be done based on these results.
Tips and warnings
- Remember to use words the everyday person would understand. Too many medical terms may distract the patient or her family. This may lead them to blindly follow your words and not ask questions.
- Never use any definites, such as "you have," and don't make an absolute diagnosis.
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