Caller: This is nurse X. We need you to come back to the hospital immediately.
Me: I’m sorry, what did you say?
Nurse: Some further test results have come in and the doctor wants you to come back immediately. We need to do a CT scan.
Me: But I was just in this morning, he said there was nothing to worry about.
Nurse: Yes, but you really need to come in.
Ok – so what would go through your mind during a conversation like that? I had gone to see the doctor because I’ve had a bit of a cough/shortness of breath recently – I just figured it was my annual episode of bronchitis. Not too big of a deal (though very annoying). I had just started feeling poorly so I hoped the doctor would give me my antibiotics and I’d be good to go.
Unfortunately, my regular doctor was on vacation. In fact, it seemed like all the doctors were on vacation and only one was available … great, I got to see the most spaced-out doctor I’ve ever had a consultation with. My first impression of him wasn’t great … so now to get this phone call had me freaked out. Really, really freaked out.
On my way to the hospital one thing was for sure – I was not going to go through a CT scan without a second opinion. I think too many tests are ordered too quickly nowadays. Anyway. I asked D to come with me for some extra support.
We get to the doctor’s office. He calls me in – I tell D to come in with me.
Doctor: I’d want to do a CT scan.
Me: What for? You looked at my x-ray earlier and said that it was fine.
Doctor: Yes, I know, but the radiologist looked at the x-ray and said that he detected a slight thickening in your lungs. It may be nothing, but still I want to be sure. It might be pneumonia.
Me: Hmmmm, pneumonia.
D: But she doesn’t have any symptoms of pneumonia.
Doctor: Yes, that’s what I thought too. It’s probably not pneumonia, but I thought maybe we can do a CT scan.
Me: Is this really necessary? I don’t want to have to take any tests that I don’t need to.
Doctor: No, we can wait if you like. You can finish your medicine and next week when you come for a follow-up we can see if you need the CT scan. Is that what you’d like?
Hmmmmm let me just think about this for a second.
Of course that’s what I’d like!!
Why the hell did you have the nurse call me up and ask me to come in immediately to do an unnecessary test for an illness that I don’t even have symptoms for?! WTF?!
I was so furious. Relieved. But furious.
Do they not learn anything about how to talk to patients? Did they not even consider how a phone call like that could be interpreted?