The warning comes after a number of cases were reported where laboratory staff were been unable to find an appropriate primary care physician to act urgently on an abnormal test result.
The concerns have prompted the RCGP to issue advice for GPs, out-of-hours providers and pathologists to help improve the situation.
The advice recommends that PCOs should inform the laboratory of arrangements for making contact with a GP out-of-hours.
GPs who request tests must provide sufficient patient details and clinical information to allow effective communication between the lab and the out-of-hours provider, and crucially, engagement and dialogue must be promoted across the whole local urgent care network.
The RCGP also identifies a need for a protocol for the laboratory to report lack of response from out-of-hours providers and a system to be put in place to quality assure abnormal results.
Professor Steve Field, chairman of the RCGP, said: ‘The document is essential for primary care teams and pathologists.
‘Whether we are dealing with results which show that an individual requires immediate medical attention, or those that may have implications for public health, an effective system for reporting and acting on abnormal test results will ultimately lead to better patient care.’
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