Friday, March 28, 2008

A Wee Bit O'Moral Outrage

Some weeks ago, my naturopath recommended that I get my ferritin levels checked at around week 34-35. Ferritin is the storage form of iron, and since I have had lowish iron levels in the past, she wants to make sure that I have enough to get through birth and post-partum successfully. (HINT: you lose a lot of blood when you give birth, and hence a lot of iron.) If my naturopath orders the tests, I have to pay for them, but if my GP or midwife does so, then they're covered, so we agreed I would ask Lillian for a requisition, which she happily gave me, and yesterday I was off to the SAT lab to get them done.

When I handed in the requisition, I asked if the lab could send a copy of my results to me directly in addition to sending them to my midwife. My naturopath had told me what numbers I ought to be looking for, so this way I could find out (and report to her) asap if I was in need of supplements. The receptionist told me that "the hospital doesn't do that" but if I went to the hospital directly I could ask for a copy of the results there. "When will the results be in?" I asked, and was told they'd be there by the afternoon.

So on the way home from work yesterday I went to the hospital. I waited around about 15 minutes before someone came to the desk to see me, which I didn't mind all that much. When someone finally arrived, I said, "I had some bloodwork done at the SAT Lab this morning, and they told me I could come here to pick up the results." The lab tech looked very surprised and skeptical. "Really? They told you that?" She went and talked to someone else in the back, then she came back to the desk and took my Care Card so she could look me up.

She then told me that a ferritin test is a "send-out" test - they send it to Vancouver, and thus the results wouldn't be in for a week. Frustrating that I'd wasted a trip over there, but this wasn't the part that filled me with moral outrage. No, the part that did that was what she said next - that even if the results were there, she couldn't give them to me unless the midwife had handwritten on the requisition form that I was allowed to have them.

That's right. I'm not allowed to know my own medical test results, because the hospital is afraid that if they told me, I might sue them.

It's my fucking blood, and it irks me something awful that I have no rights whatsoever to know what's in it (or not in it). Even more annoying is the fact that I know Lillian would find this rule ridiculous as well, and that if I'd ask her to grant me the holy permissions to see my own results, she would have happily done so (but I had no way of forseeing that this would be a problem, because it's so utterly ridiculous).

When did Canada become so litigious??

By the way it is snowing here today. I remember at the beginning of March when Mike, Lisa, and I were driving into Vancouver in stunningly beautiful sunshine and Lisa said, "March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion." She was so right.


Anonymous said...

Canada became so litigious (in reference to hospital records anyway) in the 70s, in case you actually wanted an answer to that question.


Amberism said...

huh. When I did that in Parksville, they just mailed me the results, no problem. But I may have asked my doctor to make sure it was on the form first...

Kat said...

Ummm sorry to disagree with you an be all informed and stuff but a Ferriting is a very innocuous result and easy for the patient to interpret. Consider something more complicated like a C-reactive protein which can indicate acute inflammation OR increased risk for heart disease. Or how about D-Dimer? Which can indicate pulmonary edema or disseminated intravascular coagulation. Or how about a plain old iron? I think I told you before that the results comes with two numbers, iron and fraction saturated. The average person would be really happy with a high iron result and not care too much if their fraction saturated was really low but this is actually a really bad clinical picture. I could go on and on and on.

Yes, its your blood but you may not be trained to interpret. This is the same reason I was not permitted to have a copy of my MRI results. In that case not even most doctors are trained to interpret them so only the radiologists see them. Its all about liability.

The hospital lab should have asked you first to get your midwife to write on the req that you are allowed to have the results. This is totally the responsibility of your caregiver. Furthermore the people who take your blood probably dont know what is a send-out test and what isnt, they don't usually get involved with that side of things and a typical hospital test menu has about 2000 tests in it. Don't be so hard on the lab workers!


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