Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program



Meyers Primary Care Institute

First Thesis Advisor

Terry S. Field


Safety, Patient Compliance, Laboratory Techniques and Procedures, Drug Monitoring, Outcome and Process Assessment (Health Care), Medication Adherence, Medication Errors, Medication Systems


Since the Institute of Medicine highlighted the devastating impact of medical errors in their seminal report, “To Err is Human” (2000), efforts have been underway to improve patient safety. A portion of medical errors are due to medication errors, and a large portion of these can be attributed to inadequate laboratory monitoring.

In this thesis, I attempt to address this small but important corner of this patient safety endeavor. Why are patients not getting their laboratory monitoring tests? Do they fail to complete them or do doctors not order the tests in the first place? Which prescribers and which patients are least likely to do what is needed for testing to happen and what interventions would be most promising?

To address these questions, I conducted a systematic review of existing interventions. I then proceeded with three aims: 1) To identify reasons that patients give for missing monitoring tests; 2) To identify patient and provider factors associated with monitoring test ordering; and 3) To identify patient and provider factors associated with completion of ordered testing.

To achieve these aims, I worked with patients and data at the Fallon Clinic. For aim 1, I conducted a qualitative analysis of their reasons for missing tests as well as reporting completion and ordering rates. For aims 2 and 3, I used electronic medical record data and conducted a regression with patient and provider characteristics as covariates to identify factors contributing to test ordering and completion.

Interviews revealed that patients had few barriers to completion, with forgetting being the most common reason for missing a test. The quantitative studies showed that: older patients with more interactions with the health care system were more likely to have tests ordered and were more likely to complete them; providers who more frequently prescribe a drug were more likely to order testing for it; and drug-test combinations that were particularly dangerous, indicated by a black box warning, were more likely to have appropriate ordering, though for these combinations, primary care providers were less likely to order tests appropriately, and patients were less likely to complete tests.

Taken together, my work can inform future interventions in laboratory monitoring and patient safety.



Rights and Permissions

Copyright is held by the author, with all rights reserved.