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I wonder if there is any concensus as to how to handle telephone calls
by patients/families looking for results of labs/cultures? Knowing that
most ED's have a policy discouraging entertaining such requests, does
any one feel "obligated" by medicolegal pressures to respond by giving
information?
 
For example, a patient fails to improve after discharge from the ED (to
make it easy, say it's an infant with fever and no other source), a
parent calls asking for  information, knowing that a culture is pending,
they are told by a "staff person" that "it's against policy to share
such information by telephone", the caller is angered, the patient does
poorly, etc etc.
 
How does everyone handle such situations? Do you call families or
patients with positive cultures obtained in the ED? (for example, a
child suspected of having a UTI at the time of discharge is placed on
amoxicillin empirically - the culture grows amp-resistant E coli, and
sensitivity testing suggests a change in therapy). Do you have a
mechanism in place, or do you feel responsible, to follow up with these
families?
 
We are re-evaluating our current process, and would appreciate any input
that you may have. Thank you.
 
Norm Christopher
Children's Hospital/Akron
 
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