Improving Patient Care Through the Use of Genetic Testing Forms that Adhere to Professional Recommendations. By Alice Kraemer Tanner
The use of genetic testing by non-genetic specialists and primary care physicians in the U.S. will increase as more tests become commercially available and as patient demand for these tests increases faster than can be handled by the limited number of genetics providers. Genetic testing and the reporting of test results can be very complex, and often more is needed than simply the result in order to make appropriate health decisions. Clear communication of all relevant information between the physician requesting the testing and the laboratory reporting the results is essential for accurate physician understanding and patient management. To facilitate this communication and understanding, I conducted a thorough literature review to illustrate the need for more standardized genetic testing forms. I then summarized professional guidelines describing recommendations for the information that should be included in test requisition forms and results reports, using cystic fibrosis and hereditary breast and ovarian cancer testing as models. From this information, I created example request forms and result report forms that followed these guidelines. The information contained in the forms plays two roles. The first is to aid physicians in requesting genetic tests by explaining what patient information is needed and why. The second is to aid the physician in interpreting results reports by explaining what the results mean for the individual patient. My hope is that this literature review, synthesis of professional society guidelines, and proposal of example test forms will be helpful to other groups that are dealing with this issue, as well.