Angry Doctor

Monday, October 10, 2005

Memo to a GP

Dear colleague,

I am writing to you regarding the abovenamed patient, who was seen at your clinic and had a test done there last month. She claims that you have told her that the test results were abnormal and suggested malignancy, and that she had to be referred to your gynaecologist-colleague for urgent surgery.

However, instead of following your professional advice like a good patient should, she foolishly decided to doctor-hop and had come to our subsidised clinic through a referral from the polyclinic, claiming financial difficulties.

She was a poor historian (as she was in a state of distress and crying through much of the consultation) and I could not get sufficient information about the test which you have done for her, so I wrote you a memo requesting for more details on the test and asked her to bring it to yourself.

The patient returned to our clinic today, making the preposterous claim that you had refused to provide any information regarding her case even after she had passed you the memo. I am sure she must have lost the memo but refused to admit it, or had neglected to tell you she is seeking a second opinion here, as I am certain we are both aware that the SMC Ethical Code states that “Where a doctor-patient relationship is terminated by a patient, a doctor should not withhold medical information from a patient or another doctor to whom the patient subsequently goes, if requested by the patient.”.

Your misguided clinic assistant had however complicated matters when she decided to disregard patient confidentiality by providing a copy of the patient’s Pap smear results to her without your knowledge, no doubt due to her tearful pestering. I am sure the Pap smear was not the test which you based your assessment of her need for urgent surgery on, as the results showed no malignancy and according to the guidelines required only a repeat smear to be performed. The patient also claims that she has only had one test done at your clinic, but I am sure she is mistaken.

I am therefore writing to you again to request a summary of her medical condition; hopefully the clumsy patient will not lose this memo too.

I hope that I will receive a written reply this time as the history the patient has made up makes you look like an unhelpful doctor who had sought to send her for an expensive and unnecessary surgery by your specialist colleague, either because you didn’t know how to interpret a Pap smear result, or because you stood to gain from the referral. Nothing, I am sure, is further from the truth.

angry doc


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