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What Do We Often Ignore While Reading A Laboratory Report?

Image courtesy: John C. Holden. (


What do we often read whenever a patient comes with a lab report? Frankly speaking, due to lack of time, we read the ‘Impression’ given at the end! Right?


But, before we read the ‘impression,’ or even the details given above the same, make sure that the report given belongs to the same patient! You may feel this silly, but rarely it creates problems. Last week, my friend Dr Krishnakumar had faced a similar incident. He had referred a 10-year-old boy for lab tests. Next day, he came with the report. Being a fastidious person (some good qualities of Ars alb), he had gone through each and every word given in that report. He found the age of the person was different. Immediately he contacted the lab, and they expressed apology for altering the report with another man bearing the same name!


Like this, there are several reports of cases wherein the reports of patients with different names were given by mistake. Can anybody imagine a horrible situation created by an altered lab report that says that we are suffering from Leukemia! Recently in Kochi, medicines were altered between two patients having the same name. After learning that the medicines taken were different, both patients collapsed due to apprehension, and as usual, their relatives and local politicians attacked the doctors, ignoring the fact that the mistake was done by a stupid nurse. The media also celebrated the breaking news!


The names of patients may be the same, but the disease need not be the same, also the remedy. Hence, do not trust the lab reports, read it properly, and if necessary, confirm the tests by repeating the same in another lab. Beware!!!


Dr Muhammed Rafeeque

Family Homoeopathic clinic



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Comment by Dr Muhammed Rafeeque on August 2, 2011 at 7:12am

Thank u dr for sharing your experience with wrong lab reports.


Comment by Dr. Satish Kumar Rana on August 2, 2011 at 3:50am

Dr. Rafeeque! Thank u for raising a very serious issue. Today the medical profession has become an industry where the main skilled person [say doctor] employees many persons under him and these mostly un-trained or under-trained fellows change a male into a female and vice-versa. Sometimes, the situation becomes so awkward that it amounts to medical negligence. 

Last month a female patient brought me a report of ultrasonography of abdomen - I wondered to find "Prostate is normal in size" - I knew what has happened to this report. Doctor, in routine, simply signs the reports without giving a reading after going for the ultrasound and dictates that everything is fine and normal and now the under-trained person on duty to print it out really do not know that this organ do not exists in female. But it surely makes a big issue for medical negligence.

So, doctors, especially homoeopaths should administer the right choose remedy's first dose themselves. Leave the rest part of placebo for the helper because we are more prone to such mistakes.

Comment by Dr Muhammed Rafeeque on July 24, 2011 at 11:44pm
Thank u all for the valuable comments.
Comment by Kuldip Singh on July 23, 2011 at 2:46am
Yes, Dr. Rafeeque, you have raised an important issue. Besides what has been narrated above, there are cases where lab reports are shown falsely positive. In such cases we need to match the symptoms to believe as to what the report says can be believed or the test is required to repeated.
Comment by Dr Aparna Singh on July 22, 2011 at 9:42pm
Yes, one of my lady patient even had written on her report--male...and at times the impression which maybe normal acc to investigative lab standards , may not be normal clinically..for E.g--Total cholesterol-the lab gives the normal range--150-250mg%, but we know as clinicians it is important that for a good heart health it stays around 180, even though labelled normal I always encircle it and tell my patients..this is your target...A close scutiny of the lab reports is a must,(pl correlate clinically is mentioned in the report too) and we cannot/must not justify the omission by  paucity of time or loads of patients...nice point raised --Dr Rafeeque..
Comment by Dr. Sayed Tahir Hassan on July 22, 2011 at 11:18am
This is a grave issue specially in our state as the numbers and variety of patients are just too high and the paramedics are careless. Most of the labs are run/operated by the technicians, this creates another problem or reliability. Similarly pharmacies have medically illiterate people.

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