POLL: Should your doctor call you with lab results?

I went to my doctor’s office for a tetnus shot yesterday after gouging my foot on a steak knife (Darwin award!) and the nurse taking my vitals asked me if I had been taking my prescription. What prescription? Apparently when I came in for my last physical 17 months ago, an abnormal lab came back indicating I have a serious Vitamin D deficiency. Big deal, just a vitamin, right? Who really takes their vitamins? I’m all like, there are vitamins in food. Also, I am lazy. The nurse got serious with me and said, “you were prescribed a medical level of Vitamin D and you haven’t been taking it? Deficiencies like yours are associated with cancer. You need to speak with the doctor.” And she left.


That was fun to hear. Just to stave off any worry, I’m fine. I just have a vitamin deficiency and a hole in my left foot. No cancer, as far as I’m aware. I did ask what kind of cancer Vitamin D deficiency puts people at risk for and got the answer “ovarian” but when I asked for a blood screen for ovarian cancer, my doctor said, “eh, screens aren’t reliable. Once a diagnosis is made, you die of it anyway.” Awesome!

Let’s assume I’m in the “99.5%” that doesn’t have it and focus instead on the answer to my next question, “why didn’t anyone call me? You guys sat on that information for a year and no one ever told me I needed to be taking a prescription?”

The answer: Oh, they emailed me. They emailed me a message about the Vitamin D thing in June 2011, but it wasn’t to my email address, it was to my inbox on their site, which all patients are supposed to sign up for and apparently check. Oh! So in addition to my gmail, my junk mail, my Facebook, my Facebook “other” messages, and my voicemail, I now need to monitor this obscure inbox on the hospital website in case I have weird, cancer-causingly-low levels of vitamins. Right.

Poll: Is a doctor responsible for getting lab result information to a patient, or is (possibly unchecked) email sufficient?

  • Yes, email is perfectly fine.
  • Email is okay, but if the patient doesn’t respond, the doctor should call.
  • No, email is a terrible, a phone call should be mandatory.


Filed under: Doctors behaving badly

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