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Critical Risk Results



Critical risk results are those results that indicate a high risk of morbidity or mortality in the absence of clinical evaluation and medical intervention. Toxic Drug Levels are those results that are so far from the therapeutic range that they indicate a potentially dangerous condition requiring immediate attention by the clinician. It is the policy of the laboratory to notify the ordering location of any laboratory results that indicate a potentially dangerous condition requiring immediate attention by the clinician.

With the exception of results being faxed to operating rooms, CRITICAL RISK RESULTS ARE ALWAYS REPORTED BY TELEPHONE even to those areas with computer printers or terminals. In accordance with The Joint Commission (TJC) requirements, it is required that we request and receive a read-back of results to ensure that the results were properly noted by the recipient.

Critical risk results may vary by institution, based on the patient population at that location. The standard critical risk alert thresholds for University of Washington Medical Center (UWMC), Harborview Medical Center (HMC) and Northwest Hospital (NWH) are viewable via the link below.

Click to View Critical Risk Results

When a test is ordered that is a part of a panel without ordering the full panel, some testing instruments perform the entire panel (e.g., blood gases, or complete blood count), but unordered tests are not reported as such in the medical record or charged. If the results of an unordered test exceed the critical risk alert threshold, the critical risk result will be called to the ordering location. At that time, the ordering location will have the opportunity to order the test, so that the critical risk result may be documented and billed in the medical record accordingly.

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Page last updated: 10/08/2019

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