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From: "Howard McCollister" <>
Subject: Re: should I be worried about health test results?
Date: 2 May 2005 23:37:02 -0500
Message-ID: <4276ff7c$0$16176$>

Steve Harris <> wrote in message
>>>Rather than getting yourself all worked up over speculation, why don't you
> just call the doctor and ask the results? <<
> Because you know what happens if you try to call a doctor. Unless
> you're another doctor. Hmmm. Maybe you DON'T know what happens when you
> try to call a doctor and you're not another doctor.
> Okay, let me clue you, Howard: it usually doesn't work well. And if you
> (the patient) are trying to extract any real info from your doctor way,
> like what your lab tests *mean,* it REALLY doesn't work. Forget it.
> Unless maybe the doc is a personal friend or you've been patient for
> years and years and years. Cause he's working for free in that case,
> and he knows it.
> Now, here's your chance to say YOU discuss their new lab results by
> phone with your patients ALL the time!!!
> And my chance to say "bullshit".  Or something like "Yeah, but only
> because you're a surgeon and it usually doesn't *matter* what their lab
> tests are."  :)  Except maybe if the CBC's low and your nurse is
> calling to say "take iron."  :).

I don't know how it works where you live, Steve. In my practice, I take
calls from patients asking about their lab tests if they get impatient
waiting for my letter. And while I don't order much in the way of blood
chemistry or other such lab tests, I have many, many patients that are
curious about the polyp I took out of their colon, or their breast biopsy,
or whatever little thingies I might have taken out of them. I respond to
their emails, and return their calls. My home number is listed in the phone
book and it's on my business card, along with my email address. My surgical
partners and I have an online support discussion forum for bariatric surgery
patients - sign up and ask a question about your gastric will
probably be me that answers it. No, I don't engage in 40 minute phone
discussions about every test I order or organ I remove, but when a patient
calls my office, or my home, or emails me with a question that's causing
them anxiety, we do whatever is necessary to ease the anxiety. The situation
posed by the OP wouldn't happen in my office because we'd explain the reason
to him when we schedule the visit.

While I certainly acknowledge that some doctors have lost sight of the fact
that patient care is the reason they have a job, that's not the culture of
our particular medical community. The arrogance of a physician that would
let a patient stew rather than return a phone call is admittedly not
uncommon around the world, but tragic nonetheless.


From: David Rind <>
Subject: Re: should I be worried about health test results?
Date: Mon, 02 May 2005 21:22:42 -0400
Message-ID: <d56jp3$qnt$> wrote:
> So I'm a 34 yo male. Went into the docs last Wed. for sinus problems,
> and while there, asked for a general health screening.
> Don't know exactly what they're testing for, never had one done, but I
> know it's at least cholesterol, blood sugar, and she said something
> about "seeing if your liver and kidneys are working properly."
> So today I get a call from the office, asking if I could make an
> appointment for Thursday to come in and talk about the results.
> They had said last week that they probably wouldn't call me to come in
> unless there was something of concern.
> So, how much should I be concerned? If it was something REALLY serious,
> like...something contageous like hepititus, or something really
> suspicious about my white blood count, they'd want me to come in right
> away, right? Not wait until 4 days later?
> So, what possibilities could it be where it's important enough to come
> in, but not so much that it can wait until Thursday?
> Thanks for any opinions!
> Liam

While a call like this could mean there was something serious, in a lot
of offices the nonphysician calling isn't allowed to discuss abnormal
test results at all. So if your cholesterol level were high and the
doctor wanted to bring you back in to discuss whether you needed to be
placed on a statin, it might conceivably generate a call like this.

That said, I think this is not a nice practice. Much better to say,
"Your cholesterol level was high and the doctor wants to talk to you
about it."

David Rind

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