The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently released a toolkit to help medical practices better manage their laboratory test processes and improve safety.

The tool is designed to identify ways to improve processes for tracking, reporting and following-up with patients after tests are done. About 40 percent of primary care office visits include some type of diagnostic medical test, according to AHRQ. “However, if test results are lost, incorrect or incomplete, the wrong treatment may be prescribed and patient harm can occur.”

The tool walks a practice through how to evaluate the testing process, identify areas that can be improved, mitigate deficiencies, assess office readiness, plan activities, engage patients, audit the efforts and incorporate electronic health records. There’s also a template to make sure lab results are communicated to patients in English or Spanish.

A team of researchers, led by Milton Eder, PhD, director of research and evaluation at Access Community Health Network in Chicago, developed the toolkit. “Improving Your Office Testing Process: Toolkit for Rapid-Cycle Patient Safety and Quality Improvement,” is available here.

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