i absolutely hate it when i hear a nurse say, "you'll have to ask the doctor about that." it's such a cop-out. you can't convince me that only a physician can interpret a lab test or a radiology report.
first, it makes the patient even more convinced that nurses don't know much and physicians are the most important part of health care. second, it bespeaks a lack of confidence in one's own knowledge.
third, it makes the patient wait anxiously, perhaps until tomorrow, before he can consult the oracle of the gods, um, ah, the physician.
fourth, it makes the patient worry that perhaps it's so bad that you can't bear to tell him.
"the radiologist's reading says that compared to yesterday's xray the pneumonia area is smaller" is something you can say, because it's fact. you can also add, at this point, "all that hard work we did with the coughing and deep breathing is paying off for you! keep it up!"
conversely, "the radiologist's reading says the pneumonia area is a little larger today. this is why you are feeling even more short of breath. i know you don't enjoy that coughing exercise, but not doing it will contribute to making things worse, and so does lying in just one position. how about we get you up in the chair and do those deep breaths now?"
as for lab results, your patient knows, or needs to know, about coags, so it's perfectly appropriate to say, "your ptt is a little longer than the target, so i'm going to decrease your heparin drip."
"your blood glucose is 150, so here's your sliding scale regular insulin. i see your a1c is pretty high. do you know what that is and what it tells us? let's talk about your diabetes control at home."
this demonstrates that you are the expert and active partner in care that you really are.