Those Elusive Test Results

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Those Elusive Test Results

I’m not sure how it happened, but over the years, my medical appointments and tests all seem to have ended up as summer scheduled dates.  You know – all those annual or periodic things:  bloodwork, mammogram, bone density, dentist, optometrist…. I also check in with the dermatologist once a year (because I was that fair-skinned, freckled kid who, as a teenager, slathered on the baby oil at the pool – remember those days?)  And this year was, oh joy of joys – my year for a colonoscopy!  Yes – every one of those tests was scheduled in July and August this year. A lot of appointments – and then, of course, a lot of waiting for results. This is one of those points about dealing with the healthcare system that has changed, drastically and dramatically, in the past 15-20 years. And of course – to no good outcome for patients!  In fact – possible danger if we aren’t paying attention. I’m referring to the fact that, in the old days, when we had a medical test, we could expect a phone call or some sort of delivery of the results. Alternatively, we were told that “no news is good news” – meaning, if we heard nothing then that meant everything was OK. No longer!  In fact, if we don’t hear back, it’s more likely because there is some sort of problem. That might mean the paperwork was misfiled, or that a couple of pages stuck together on your doctor’s fax machine, or that someone took a day off then got behind on email… and maybe that’s all it means.  But, dangerously, when test results get lost, then there is no telling whether the news was good or bad. If the results weren’t normal, and you never hear that news, then you could get sicker, or even die. It happens every day. It happened to me!  In 2004 – when I was misdiagnosed, so I do know exactly what I’m talking about.  But it’s actually very simple for you to be sure it doesn’t happen to you. To be sure you get your medical test results: Every time you have a medical test, ask when and how you will get the results. If your test is in a lab, they will likely tell you to expect to hear from your doctor who ordered it. In that case, ask when your doctor…


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