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I always read medical test results and there's a reason (FYI)

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Pats, Nov 7, 2019.

  1. Pats

    Pats Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    My mom had a triple heart bypass and was informed that she would always be a cardiac patient. Her continuous shortness of breathe could fall under symptoms of cardiac disease. Her feeling tired, all her symptoms she continually had would fall under cardiac disease. One day she was at the doctors and the nurse happened to mention pulmonary fibrosis, and my mom was like, "What?" It had been on her chart but no one had ever told her she had pulmonary fibrosis and it was an accident her finding out. Not knowing about the lung issues, she related everything to the heart because symptoms would fit in both categories.

    It's been years, I've had xrays for surgery prep or whatever. I've had a lung ct scan. No one has yet to mention that I have emphysema, yet it's mentioned in the results of every test I've had. No one has mentioned that in every ct and mri I've had on my neck, it shows enlarged thyroid, and also shows the emphysema. There's some fluid around the apex of my heart. There's a hiatal hernia. None of these things have ever been mentioned. I don't know if the doctors are not reading the results or if they don't mention it because that's not what you're being seen for. But whenever I have a test - radiology - I always request a copy for myself. It IS mine after all, and I'm paying for it. They don't mind, just people don't usually know they can ask for it.

    But if you have something chronic going on, sometimes symptoms could be symptoms of something else and you won't know it because you expect it to go along with whatever chronic disease you're living with. Sometimes I worry because all the symptoms from my neck - which can actually cover any symptom in any part of your body, makes me wonder if I might miss if something new pops up because I'm just going to relate it to my chronic neck issues.

    Anyway, my point is not to count on doctors to tell you everything that's in your medical file.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
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  2. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    This frustrated me a lot when I was doing my final internship in radiology. I would write extensive reports on everything I saw in each X-ray and CT-scan, but the medical specialist that ordered it was often only interested in their own area of expertise and didn’t even read the whole report, just the conclusion. And often not even the whole conclusion, just the answer to their question. I made it a habit to call each specialist whenever I found something of interest. Some were dismissive, but some really appreciated it and referred patients on to other specialists for further analysis.

    I think it’s just bad doctoring if you don’t report incidental findings to your patients. These days most hospitals in our country offer patients full insight into their own digital patient records so they get to see test reports for themselves. This is a double-edged sword, but I think transparency is good here.

    Being a doctor I always want to know the full extent of my test results. It annoys me that when I call my GP’s assistant for test results she will often tell me everything is fine, but when I ask her for the exact results I find out that there are irregularities and she has no business telling me it’s fine if she can’t interpret lab results. Luckily my GP is very transparent with me. I’ve been referred to tha medical specialist for additional diagnosis into some complaints I’ve been having and I really hope I run into a doctor that is open to having a transparent discussion with me.
     
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  3. GadAbout

    GadAbout Well-Known Member

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    I always read EVERYTHING in my medical chart, notes from every visit, test results, etc. If anything does not look right, I bring it up with my doctor. I love electronic records! We have a system here (provided by Epic Systems, one of the leaders in the field) where you can look up everything (almost everything) in your medical chart. Sometimes I just send a secure message to the doc, a lot of times that's more efficient for both parties than a telephone call (which always results in telephone tag) and also more efficient than a visit, unless you were going to have one anyway.

    I think sometimes when we say "nobody ever mentioned that!" it's due to a processing error - on our part. I mean, I can only take in so much information on any occasion, even if I'm trying really hard. I was hospitalized for a TIA (transient ischemic attack or "mini stroke") a few years ago. It was at a university hospital and they must have had well over a dozen people (docs, interns, this and that kind of therapist) talk with me. I do NOT remember all those conversations.

    My primary care doc is a really nice woman who tries very hard to do a great job. Anyway we were discussing whether I should stay on baby aspirin daily as a preventive; the guidelines have changed, now it's not "everybody" but people with a risk factor. She said "well you don't have a history of heart disease or stroke" - I broke in, well I did have a TIA ... she goes that's right, how could I overlook that!

    That's an example of two people not feeling defensive and just trying, with their human frailties, to get the best outcome for a patient (me). Docs are not perfect, patients are not perfect, but in the best circumstances, working as a team, we can get better outcomes.
     
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  4. Mary Terry

    Mary Terry Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    My husband, who is a doctor, describes the Epic system as a four letter word. I'm so glad he retired before he got physically ill from the stress of dealing with other doctors. You guys are saying exactly what he has always said about the medical community's superficiality.

    Obtain and read your own med records and don't hesitate to demand answers to your questions and concerns because it might save your life.
     
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  5. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    Haha, as a med student I had a job for half a year entering medical records into the Epic system because the doctors and nurses could not get used to it at all.
     
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  6. GadAbout

    GadAbout Well-Known Member

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    Lately at some visits to specialists, a medical "scribe" is tapping away on a laptop while the main doctor is having face to face interview with the patient. But other docs don't have a scribe and instead ask questions with zero eye contact with the patient, they are facing the screen at all times - NOT GREAT PATIENT CARE SKILL! (bedside manner)

    I think docs and nurses here hated Epic at first but it's at least 10 or 12 years since they were forced to use it, and most have climbed the learning curve by now. You have to admit, it's really efficient when they can look up the date of your last colonoscopy instead of relying on your memory!
     
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  7. GadAbout

    GadAbout Well-Known Member

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    ... and while we're on the subject of colonoscopies... please don't show me a photo of my polyp! I really don't need to see that!
     
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  8. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    That’s a very annoying habit a lot of doctors have. When I see my patients I bring a notebook and write the important things down. It’s not the most time efficient thing, but it allows me to maintain eye contact and as a plus, my patients get to see what I write down (provided they can decipher my handwriting ;) )
     
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  9. Kirsty

    Kirsty ND

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    Lol it can also be the other way round, too, isn’t it when a doctor can’t read other peoples’ handwriting. o_O
     
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  10. clg114

    clg114 Still crazy, after all these years. Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    Getting copies of all results is fine for you, as a nurse you can probably understand what you are reading. Of course Bolletje knows what they say, having written a lot of them. I think that there are a few more members who understand these reports. But for me, I only understand about half of what I am reading. It is in my best interest know what these lab results, visit summeries, discharge paperwork and other medical paperwork mean. My wife and I both go to each others appointments and we always go with a list of questions. This is the only way that we can keep everything straight.
     
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  11. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    They told me they'd call if something was off about my bloodwork and didn't call, but it sounds like I should just ask for it. :eek:
     
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  12. tducey

    tducey Well-Known Member

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    Doctors are the same everywhere I think. I think it's important for you to keep on top of your own medical history.
     
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  13. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    In the UK, as far as I know you don't get to see and keep your test results and medical records, the consultant/GP keeps those. I had a diagnosis in the UK that I was unaware of and uninformed about, until I happened to look on the GP's screen and saw it - I had been diagnosed with Social Phobia. I then wondered what else I had been diagnosed with and not informed about. It's wrong to keep such information from patients, they have a right to know.

    Here, I get to see and keep all my test results, they are my responsibility and not the doctor's. The doctor just interprets them and makes diagnoses where appropiate. I read all of these, and if I don't understand something I look it up, or ask for clarification the next time I see the doctor. Doctors tend to assume that lay people can't or won't understand the medical jargon, but actually I do understand it, if I don't I can easily find out.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019 at 1:12 PM
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  14. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad I've had medical training and know how to read reports or if there is a term I don't know
    it is easy to do some studying on the subject and asking the doctor about it.
    I've found most specialists do just pay attention to their small area of expertise.
    I even hear this from many of them..."well, that isn't my area."
    It takes forever to go from one to another trying to find out a problem.
    I think it would be so nice to have places where people who have seemingly exhausted
    all the different specialists and can't find an answer to be able to go to for a few days stay
    where the different doctors could get it all diagnosed quickly.
    Like a teaching hospital.
    There are many large med schools here, but, again only one that has a specialty hospital for cancer.
    If you don't live close you would need to stay in a hotel until you seen the different specialists.

    If you can understand test results, always go over them yourself.
    Many times the doctors receive the results only to have them put in your file until the next time
    you see them.

    Same with pharmacists.
    Read the literature for the drug. Check that the description of the med matches what is
    described. It should tell who made the med, the colour, size/shape and any letters or markings
    on it.
    I've had the wrong med dispensed. And that could be a disaster.
     
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  15. Mary Terry

    Mary Terry Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    In the US, a doctor's records belong to the doctor but patients have an absolute right to obtain a copy. Some doctors charge fees for a hard copy but many doctors here provide a confidential website usually called a "patient portal" on which a patient can access their records and lab results. Blood work results are reported by the lab with an indication of whether each component of the blood is high, low, or within normal range so it is fairly easy for the patient to understand what is going on.

    There is at least one other person in my state with the same name as mine so I always make sure the doctor has MY records and not that other woman's records. That came to light years ago when the doctor asked me how that new cardiac medication was working for me and I informed him that I have never taken a cardiac med. Turned out that they had mixed the two patients' records together. Yikes! I have also gotten that woman's Christmas presents shipped to my house by accident and phone calls from her creditors about her overdue bills. And my real name is not a common one so I can imagine how easy it is for records to be mixed up for patients' with common names.
     
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  16. Pats

    Pats Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Although, in a hospital setting, you are not allowed to just pick up your chart and read it. There are guidelines if you want to read your chart what medical staff has to be present when you read your own chart. To get hard copies of records, most offices do charge so much per page, then over a certain amount it's more. It can add up. I do have them make me a cd copy of radiology tests and I do use the patient portal and read all the notes after each visit. I get irritated when I do that because the doctor will always write things we did not talk about. I suppose that the list of questions that the nurse asks at the beginning of the visit covers that it was discussed, but asking if I eat vegetables daily and I answer no, to me, is not having a discussion about diet. But I'm sure it's required for the insurance company. And I've had to directly ask the doctor to add things to my chart - for instance my last visit I asked her to add the trigeminal neuralgia to my list of diagnosis' so if I'm somewhere and unconscious they will not automatically think I take this small dose of anti-seizure medicine for seizures. You really do need to know what's in your medical records.
     
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