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Systematic review
Ambulatory test result follow-up represents a serious problem and solutions are needed
  1. David W Bates
  1. Division of General Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to : Dr David W Bates
    Division of General Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 1620 Tremont, Boston, MA 02210, USA; dbates{at}

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This systematic review assessed the extent and impact of failure of a test result follow-up in ambulatory care.


The study, which measured how often diagnostic tests were not followed up and the impact on ambulatory care patients, was a well-conducted systematic review. Medline, CINAHL, Embase, Inspec and the Cochrane Database were systematically searched for articles from 1995 to November 2010. Included studies were those which quantified failure to follow-up for laboratory and radiology tests for patients in ambulatory settings. Excluded were studies reporting physicians’ or patients’ perceived rates of failure, time from placement of test order to treatment, studies that combined inpatient and outpatient results, and studies on individual patients. Four reviewers independently reviewed all articles for inclusion and discrepancies were resolved by discussion. A formal meta-analysis was …

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  • Competing interests None.