To shorten patients' wait, why don't nurses relay scan results to patients? Given that I desperately want to minimize the time patients wait for results, here are reasons why I think that is not the answer.
Physicians and nurses work together, each bringing their areas of expertise to benefit patients. Physicians are the ones trained in the intricacies of diagnostic tests and treatment decisions. Physicians, and not nurses, can interpret and respond to abnormal test results in the context of an individual patient's care.
So let's start with the easiest scenario: Routine follow-ups of patients with no symptoms whose cancer has been in remission for awhile. If the scans are normal, what's wrong with nurses calling to tell patients the glorious news? Nothing.
But what happens if the scan shows some new finding, whether suspicious for recurrence or for some other medical problem? Now the patient gets no phone call from a nurse. Or they're called and told, "You need to see the doctor for your results."
Patients who were waiting for the nurses' "all clear" call now endure waiting made far worse by an imagination unleashed by the knowledge that the results showed "something."
That "something" may be a minor problem unrelated to the cancer. But since nurses are not trained to interpret such results or to determine the next diagnostic and/or therapeutic steps, patients' waiting has been made more stressful.
Next: What about patients' right to know, whatever the news?