Dear Dr Tumoriffic,
My labs were drawn three weeks ago--why do I need an appointment to know what they report?
Here are the top 10 reasons your doctor is making you come in for an appointment to tell you about your lab results 3 weeks after they were drawn:
10. Your doctor is lonely. See, a good doctor is like the Maytag repairman (Google it, youngsters!). No patients ever come to visit, because he or she does such a good job keeping them healthy.
9. Your labs will reveal that you have an embarrassing disease, and your doctor just wants to see the look on your face and laugh maniacally like some comic book villain.
8. You're their very favorite patient.
7. There is no number 7.
6. Ed McMahon will be waiting to award you the Publishers' Clearinghouse Sweepstakes grand prize.
5. It's a trap! Run away!
4. I'm tired, and it's late, so I'm skipping to the serious ones.
3. The results have not answered the diagnostic question the doctor wants answered, and they want to get you in to examine you again and ask more questions.
2. The results show that something serious is wrong, and your doctor wants to tell you in person.
1. Your doctor's employer is very stingy. Insurance companies don't pay for the time your doctor takes to write a letter or make a phone call. They pay when you come in. This is the least likely answer, but things are getting so cut-throat in the health industry, I wouldn't put it past them. Stay tuned. It may be standard practice in a few years.
PS: Addendum for issue #2, about why doctors don't know what things cost.
Jay said: This one needs an addendum: doctors not knowing how much their own visits cost.
This a good question. I don't know. The insurance company pays whatever their contract with the health care organization says they pay, so it's practically unknowable. Out-of-pocket visits are rare and vary from place to place. Kind of sad, really. I don't know whether my patient is paying a ridiculous co-pay for a visit just to hear about their labs 3 weeks after they are drawn.
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