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Can an RN or an LPN give negative results over the phone or in person to a patient?

Tuesday August 28, 2012
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Dear Donna,

Can an RN or an LPN give negative diagnostic results over the phone or in person to a patient?


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Wondering,

I'm assuming that by "negative," you mean normal or no pathology found. Although there are no "laws" (other than HIPPA regulations related to confidentiality) about something like this, it is understood that the primary care provider, physician or advanced practice nurse, (whoever ordered the tests) should see the results first — they usually sign off on them to indicate he or she saw the report and may agree or request that the patient be notified by someone other than himself or herself.

The test results rarely "stand alone." They need to be interpreted by the PCP in the context of the patient's entire case. Regardless of the results, there are sometimes implications, treatment plans, next steps and possibly a diagnosis that need to be discussed.

This might be governed by your employer's policies and procedures, written or otherwise, and/or the preferences of the primary care provider, if applicable.

Best wishes,

Donna Cardillo, RN, MA, well-known career guru, is Nurse.com’s “Dear Donna” and author of “Your First Year as a Nurse: Making the Transition from Total Novice to Successful Professional” and “The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses: Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career.” Information about the books is available at www.Nurse.com/CE/7010 and www.Nurse.com/CE/7250, respectively. To ask Donna your question, go to www.Nurse.com/Asktheexperts/Deardonna. Find a “Dear Donna” seminar near you: Call 800-866-0919 or visit http://Events.nursingspectrum.com/Seminar.