better lucky than good

02/06/2009 at 6:35 AM Leave a comment

A very long time ago a mistake happened. Whether it was my mistake, the patients or the system I will leave to others to decide.

We received a report that an incidental chest xray showed a lung tumor on one of my patients. We were not looking for a tumor, she had no symptoms- 

We tried to reach her repeatedly, by phone, by letter. Finally we find out she left to New York state without a forwarding address ( marital problems). We lost track of her. A year later she returns to our practice for anxiety, stress and depression issues ( still no lung symptoms). But too much time had passed to connect that old Chest Xray with the patient and some time passed before it got picked up again .

I will never forget the day that we got a new xray, once again showing the tumor, now larger. We went through the chart and sure enough, there it was with a record of our attempts at  reaching her. 

At this point I did something that the medical community is only now accepting. I told the patient. I also told every friend I have. Secrets make me sicker. 

At this point God/Karma smiled on all of us. Despite the delay the tumor was resectable and curable! What? No Way! Sure enough the surgeon removed it, and I took care of the patients recovery. She remains a dear patient some 9 years later. No recurrence, no lung issues, and she just quit smoking.

Any input out there?

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Entry filed under: Doctor Musings. Tags: , , .

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