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Consultants are instructing GPs to follow up hospital-ordered test results, BMA finds

There is a trend of hospital doctors instructing GPs to find out hospital test results, which is ‘potentially unsafe’, the GPC and Consultants Committee of the BMA have said.

The warning was included in joint guidance by the two groups on the duty of care for hospital test results, which said that the ‘ultimate responsibility’ of following up results lies with the person ordering the tests.

The guidance stresses that any handover of responsibility has to be a joint consensual decision between the hospital team and the GP.

It states: ‘We are aware that in some areas, some hospital doctors have been instructing GPs to find out the test results which the hospital had ordered. Both the GPC and the Consultants Committee of the BMA agree this practice is potentially unsafe, and that the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that results are acted upon rests with the person requesting the test.

‘If the GP hasn’t accepted that role, the person requesting the test must retain responsibility.’ 

Updated guidance also warns that the issue of drugs recommended from outpatient clinics to patients and their GPs is complex and ‘patient safety can be compromised’.

‘Drugs required for urgent administration should be prescribed by the hospital doctor, and if appropriate dispensed by the hospital,’ states the duty of care.