Best practice indicates that laboratories expedite reporting of laboratory tests that demonstrate critical values. In so doing, laboratories have to ensure that the results are communicated directly to the ordering physician, even if this is after office hours (which is often the case with community laboratories). This is a patient safety issue to ensure that potentially life-threatening abnormalities are dealt with promptly by the physician caring for the patient and ordering the test.
Most physicians do provide us with after-hours contact numbers, but recently we have seen an increase in critical results that cannot be communicated to the physician or other health care provider, as we do not have this after-hours hours information. LifeLabs does have oncall physicians who will convey these results directly to the patient, when we are unable to reach the physician. However, it is most appropriate for the patient’s Health Care Provider (HCP) to give advice to the patient.