Doctor That Won't Notify of Abnormal Test Results

I have never come across a Dr before who won't notify of abnormal test results, until this one, and was only informed of this when I specifically asked the receptionist.

I am not talking about them giving you the actual result over the phone, they won't do that, but calling you to tell you that the Dr needs to see you about the results, is standard where I've been.

Also always have been able to ring up to ask the receptionist if the result is back, if the Dr has looked at it they will tell you something generic like Dr says no need to see him. This Dr's office says you can't even ring for that. In fact whilst I was there last I witnessed a phone conversation that the receptionist was having with a patient and I believe she was saying that they won't even tell you if the results are even back yet so you can come in to discuss them.

Maybe this is standard practice for bulk billing clinics and I just wasn't aware of it because there are so few bulk billing places around here.

I would have thought they would have had a sign on the wall or at least something on their web site indicating this policy otherwise patients may just assume they would be notified of an abnormal result.

I presume they must have some system in place for reporting postive results for notifiable diseases to the relevant authorities as they are required to however the patient themselves would not be notified I presume.

Of course relying purely on the Dr to call you is not a great idea, and just because Dr says no need to see him doesn't mean everything is normal (it probably just means there is nothing life threatening), but it does seem really rough that the patient can't even check if the results are definitely in before they spend hours of their time going to visit the Dr, it seems a tactic to generate more easy medicare bulk bills.

Assuming this is standard practice for a bulk biller, a non bulk billing gp here costs usually $85 business hours $100++ after hours if they are even open. The medicare rebate is about $38 it seems an awful lot extra to have to pay for the ability to cost a couple minutes of the receptionists time on a phone call.


  • cool story

  • +15 votes

    Hmmm do you have a question at all or did you just want to have a rant?

    • Just wondering if it was normal or not.

      • They want you to keep making new appointments to see if the results are back yet. $$$

      • Yes, it’s totally normal for a doctor who’s into investment properties, fancy car, fancy boat, globetrotting holidays, quality wine, lunchtime siesta.
        Hippocratic Oath, due diligence and patient care makes for poor business.

        • Unfortunately good medicine takes time, diligence, and energy. Chasing things up during lunch, staying back late to make sure things that need to be done urgently are sorted, home visits for people who aren't well enough to attend the clinic, and even nursing home visits are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Maybe this is because of the rise of large corporate bulk billing clinics. But also Medicare isn't designed to support good medicine.

          Supporting your local GP that charges a small gap, but does care and goes the extra mile is worth it.

          • @uedamasaki:

            .. slowly becoming a thing of the past

            let’s just agree that doctors, as altruistic individuals are a thing of the past.
            I still admire those I meet in public hospitals who go above and beyond on modest remuneration. As to the level of care shown by GPs and specialists, well, they may as well be tradies.

            • @AlexF: I'm sorry that you haven't been blessed with good GPs/specialists as of yet. I assure you that they do exist, so keep searching.

              I recall a gastroenterologist that visited rural GP clinics to see patients. He was kind, patient, would always fit patients in if they needed to get seen. He unfortunately was diagnosed with a brain tumour, but apparently worked as long as he could despite being terminal. During his last weeks of clinic he was apparently still seeing patients despite being wheelchair bound.

              There are many doctors both private and public that go above and beyond for their patients. Unfortunately a lot of this work is done behind the scenes and never recognized by patients.

  • time to move on to another practice

  • Privacy

    I won't even confirm or deny if someone is my a patient in my clinic unless there's a specific purpose to the question, much less tell you if someone has had a test or not.

    • This is much preferable to a receptionist calling from a crowded waiting room.
      “Yes abc, the results are back and that itch is the same one xyz has, so you will need the cream and be a bit more careful next time.”

      • I never suggested receptionists should do such a thing.

        Simply asking that they should be able to provide some generic information like your results are in and you should see the Dr about them.

        • Well sure, I was making a joke, but who decides what is a privacy issue? Does the receptionist leave a message? Do they identify themselves? How do they know they are talking to the right person? What if their callerID shows?
          If my spouse answered a call from a doctor asking me to schedule an appointment that would be a privacy issue, whether they disclosed results were available or not.

          And what if my teen daughter’s doctor did the same? There would be many parents who would react to just the knowledge a child was visiting a doctor in private.

          • @mskeggs: But what would you prefer?

            Your spouse/parent etc maybe finds out you have seen a Dr, but has no idea about what OR
            You never find out about your cancer etc until it is too late because you had gone in there with some minor problem which went away so you didn't go back. They found out by accident you had something serious but did not call you to respect your privacy.

            Or what if someone has hiv, the Dr nevers informs them and they infect a whole bunch of other people.

            Honestly if you allow your spouse/parent etc access to your phone you have no expectation of privacy. If they listen to your voicemails and take your calls pretending to be you they are reading your texts and emails too.

            I really don't think is anything to do with privacy in this case they are trying to generate extra bulk billed visits.

            • @abc123z: We are bound by law to report certain issues.

              A half decent doctor knows when to balance the probability of morbidity vs privacy.

              I'm not going to withhold information such as analphylactic reaction if I see someone about to force feed their partner peanuts.

              Where no immediate danger is present, I couldn't care less about the feelings of my patient's friends and family.

              If someone wants to access the patient's private communications, that has absolutely nothing to do with me.

              • @tshow: So tshow, assuming you are a doctor, are you saying that the others Dr's I have been to have been violating some sort of privacy law by saying such generic things as Dr wants to see you/does not want to see you/tests are back? Can you quote this law?

                And if the law isn't black and white as to what consititutes a valid reason to violate this supposed privacy law, surely most Drs would be erring on the side of informing the patient of the issue (small risk of minor complaint by patient due to nosy spouse listening to their voicemail saying nothing more than to call the office) vs patient getting sicker due to not being informed of their condition?

                If a receptionist/dr cannot tell me my tests are in, or call me to say the Dr needs to see me, how then can they do things like call or sms to confirm my appointment? Surely that is a violation of privacy too? I have even had some receptionists asked me to explain my problem to them over the phone before they would give me an appointment - but that is not a violation of privacy? How about allowing me to make a follow up appointment over the phone? How do you know that is me? Do you ask your patients for photo id when they show up to see you? How do you know it is actually them?

                It does seem that the medical profession pulls "privacy" at every opportunity whenever a patient is simply seeking their own information, but the information is given much more freely to other parties. For example it is very easy for any doctor to ring up and get information from a pathology lab or hospital etc on a patient without proving absolutely who they are or that they have the patient's permission. It is very difficult for the patient to get that same information on themselves, they will have to fill out forms and they will probably have to pay fees and it will take a long time to get the information.

                If a Dr called you claiming to be also treating one of your patients, would you give them information without making them prove a) they were who they said they were beyond all doubt and b) the patient had given their consent for you to give them information? I would guess you would give the Dr at least some information, yet you wouldn't even give the patient even the most simple information about themselves under the same circumstances. I am really interested to know from you if you are Dr if I am correct on this.

                What about if an employer calls to validate that a patient was sick on a certain date? You would have to confirm that the patient was yours and had seen you at x date and received a valid certificate. Do you require proof that it is indeed the patients employer before you would talk to them? Really shouldn't you also confirm that the employer was entitled to a medical certificate according to that employee's contract? I bet you would give that information to the employer. Again really interested to know what you what you would do as a Dr.

                Other businesses etc have no problem communicating with customers over the phone, they will ask questions that are reasonable to establish the person's identity based on how sensitive the information is. I really don't see why the medical profession has such an issue with this.

                • @abc123z: Doctors have the ability to exercise discretion.

                  There are obvious breaches of privacy.

                  Then there's what the doctor prefers to do in the interest of their patient's privacy.

                  If you cannot see the potential reason for stricter privacy practice, then may I suggest you just believe me when I say it has saved my ass a few times and I get high profile clients because of said discretion. I don't expect you to accept nor understand but the summary is - if you don't like your doctor, find a new one because seemingly you know what you want.

                  • @tshow: Well, you have done a very good job of not really answering any of my questions.

                    You probably answer your patients questions about their health in a similar way, a non answer followed by something like they wouldn't understand. And if they don't like what you say you tell them "go ahead and find another Dr".

                    Really don't know what these high profile clients must have to hide if you can't even call them to leave a harmless voicemail on their phone.

                    • +15 votes

                      @abc123z: If assumptions make you feel empowered, go for it.

                      There has been multiple well written responses through this thread, you are just too headstrong to accept them.

                      All the best with the results.

      • "Mr Smith. Mr John Smith. Mr John Smith, date of birth… The doctor is ready to see you about those genital warts and impotence."

    • "I'm waiting on the test results of my blood test, the doctor said I'd hear back in a week" internal monologue "I think I have AIDS"

      "I can't confirm or deny you are a patient, lets book you in late next week"

      • If there is evidence of transmission risk, we are mandated to manage the disclosure of the results.

        "What's your name? I'll make a time for you and the doctor will discuss these results you are referring to."

        Neither confirming nor denying.

        • What is ideal way this works out in the event

          The tests results aren't back
          The test results are all clear

          • @releasethekr4cken: The receptionist can see if the results are back. If it isn't back, they'll just make a later appointment. If it still isn't back, they may call to reschedule.

            If the tests are all clear and the doctor doesn't need/want to see the patient the response is, "you will receive a text to your nominated address/phone number".

            All clear. No follow up necessary.

            Since it is the patient that has nominated the address, the responsibility is on the patient to ensure the security of their own receptacle.

            My nurses are told to flat out refuse to announce these things verbally. We don't know if it is a spoofed number calling or phone is on speaker, and we will not have a paper trail of communication.

            I hope that helps.

            • @tshow: Um, how are you managing this, I am really interested. Patient calls to make follow up appointment, but is not allowed to ask whether results are back according to your clear, previous statements. Receptionist knows somehow magically that patient is wanting to follow up on results and is not coming in on another matter. Results aren't back so receptionist tells patient they can't have appointment at that time (but isn't allowed to tell them that this is because results aren't back as this would be confirming that their results weren't in, perhaps receptionist has to lie and says no doctors are available).

              You must also have some sort of notification system also for the receptionist to call the patient who has schechuled the appointment thinking the results would be back by then, but in fact they aren't. That must be some great system. Also this call by the receptionist to reschedule the appointment if results aren't back must NOT be a violation of privacy like it would be to simply allow the patient to confirm whether the results were in and they could have the appointment in the first place. I am guessing if the receptionist called to reschedule the appointment due to results not being in they would have to make up some kind of lie like the Dr couldn't work that day because it is violating the privacy laws, according to you, to tell the patient that they need to reschedule because their results aren't in.

              Also, you stating you would notify the patient via post/phone if it was all clear no follow up necessary is in direct contradication to your previous statements that this was in violation of some kind of privacy laws.

              I hope some will take the time to read through this thread and pull you up on your clearly contradicting yourself.

              Also, in my case the receptionist claims to be completelty unable to see whether test results are back or not. This may be a policy of the medical centre, but it is not law.

              • @abc123z:

                perhaps receptionist has to lie and says no doctors are available

                The receptionist doesn't have to lie. They will give you a few options for time which would take into account any deadline restrictions.

                You've made multiple attempts to call me out on my "contradictions" but they're all failing miserably because there isn't any contradiction. You just go on rambling…

                How about you quote the contradiction?

                I will wait.

                You asked why aren't you being told about your results or appointment for your results. I gave you an answer. I'm not your doctor so the answer may not be accurate in your instance but it is a legitimate answer.

                • @tshow: Oh, OK receptionist doesn't have to outright lie according to you (however they do tell patient they cannot have appointment until x date even though you have appointments available before then, which is pretty much a lie). Then patient having been told he has to wait a week and see you at some inconvient time jumps online and sees you have appointments available tommorow and calls back to ask why. The receptionist responds how without a lie…

                  OK here is a start to the contradiction:

                  Your quote:


                  I won't even confirm or deny if someone is my a patient in my clinic unless there's a specific purpose to the question, much less tell you if someone has had a test or not."

                  This is a contradiction. You state you will not confirm or deny whether someone is a patient in the clinic yet you state that:

                  "If the tests are all clear and the doctor doesn't need/want to see the patient the response is, "you will receive a text to your nominated address/phone number".

                  All clear. No follow up necessary."

                  If the patient can receive a text to say no follow up necessary why on earth can't they ask over the phone whether their results are in? This is totally ridiculous!

                  I think you are a totally power tripping doc who gets off on keeping the patient's information from them and making your patients come back paying you more money whilst you do absolutely zero for them.

                  • @abc123z:

                    "you will receive a text to your nominated address/phone number".

                    Every patient has to nominate a mode of communication as part of their patient registration. If you are a patient on the clinic, you will receive a text to your nominated address/phone number. If you're not, you won't get a text.

                    If you're potentially fishing for information, ie spoofed contact information asking about someone else, they'll get a text saying someone called regarding your confidential information, if this is not you, ignore the message."

                    Don't tell me you have never seen the generic message when trying to recover a password. You're not told if you have username or password incorrect. It will just tell you that an email has been sent to your nominated address.

                    Clutching at straws, getting defensive over nothing and certainly making more assumptions.

                    • @tshow: If you can send a text stating my results are clear you can send a text stating my results are in if I should so request it.

                      Why would any patient willing to receive a text stating their results are clear not be willing to receive a text stating their results are in.

                      • @abc123z:

                        If you can send a text stating my results are clear you can send a text stating my results are in if I should so request it.

                        And I would. If you're referring to my original comment, it was in response to your original post.

                        You are asking about what can be said over the phone. I then made an extension to that to indicate that is a rule for a conversation over the phone when you said

                        If they listen to your voicemails and take your calls pretending to be you they are reading your texts and emails too.

                        So I said

                        If someone wants to access the patient's private communications, that has absolutely nothing to do with me.

                        Ie. I will disclose information through other channels (albeit low level information).

  • Isn't it standard to already have booked in a follow up appt with the Dr when your tests are done for the results, and to cancel that one if it's not needed?

    • How will you know if the appointment is not needed to cancel it if they will not tell you whether it is needed or not when the results come back?

      And how can you book the follow up appointment date if you cannot be sure what date the results will be available (and cannot confirm whether they have come in)?

      • How will you know if the appointment is not needed to cancel it if they will not tell you whether it is needed or not when the results come back?

        You don't, you show up to the appointment. There are standard return times for tests. You make an appointment for after that date.

        • Not everything has a standard return time, even then there may be delays, some doctors do not receive all results electronically they may recieve them via snail mail or fax still, in which case results may get lost. I have returned for follow ups months later only to find the specialist never bothered to send his letter or it got lost or the scan I had at the same hospital was not sent to the specialist and he couldn't even access it on his system.

          Don't you think it would be more efficient for a receptionist to take a two minute phone call to enquire whether the results were back than to waste an appointment to tell patient results not back? The medicare cost, the cost to patients own pocket, time off work, another patient has missed out on that appointment that might have wanted it, etc…

          • @abc123z: You're not entitled to dictate your own notions of efficiency on others.

            • @HighAndDry: Well I would have thought it would have been obvious that the cost to the taxpayer at least would be less by not having the unneeded appointment even if you think my own time and money is completely unimportant. Though I am sure you do not think your own time and money is worthless.

              I am sure if you hired some tradies by the hour and they stood around having smokes and chatting you might feel differently about your right to dictate your opinions about efficiency on others.

            • @HighAndDry: But he / she is entitled to ask if everyone else agrees.

              And I have to agree. And I can’t see why anyone else wouldn’t agree that it would be a complete waste of time.

            • @HighAndDry: Apparently you’re also not entitled to know when your test result are back either.

            • @HighAndDry: He said after previously stating "there are standard return times for tests"

        • That's just plain profiteering. If there's no need for the patient to return then there's no need for the follow up appointment.

      • all my pathology tests (nothing too exotic) all seem to back within 2 working days

  • +5 votes

    ♫ Doctor, doctor, give me the news…♫

  • Yeah, doctor clinic I used to refused to look at results or even notify you via phone that results were in. You had to call them up to check. Tried 4 different doctors in that same clinic, incidentally over 12 months and repeat visits they failed to diagnose Sarcoidosis; or seemingly give a shit at all.

    Swapped to a different doctor clinic, still bulk billed, the difference is night and day. They'll call (and have) and successfully diagnosed Sarcoidosis with minimal fuss (considering it's a difficult thing to diagnose).

    NOTE: Did try a non-bulk billed clinic in between and they were garbage too. Like most things, just comes down to individual people; my current doctor is a good guy, previous doctors seemingly weren't.

    • You admit in your post that sarcoidosis is difficult to diagnose AND that you went to multiple different GPs instead of seeing the same one multiple times so you insinuate that they're not "good guys" .

      To others reading, this is a classic reason why you should continue to see the same GP while working up a diagnosis.

      • That really depends. What was the GPs response when they couldn't find the cause initally?

        If the GP leaves it open for you to come back then it is one thing but sometimes they will leave the patient feeling dismissed or tell them straight up they can't do anything more or even tell them that the problem is in their head.

        A good Dr will tell you something like if this doesn't work in a few weeks come back.

      • Sorry, I just saw this. To clarify, I had 8 doctors visits in a 12 month period, 5 of which were with the same doctor. The other 3 appointments were with doctors at the same clinic. The issue wasn't that they failed to diagnose Sarcoidosis, the issue was that they failed to give a shit. Or being more specific, on every single one of those 8 visits to the the different doctors, I asked for a referral to a dermatologist (because there were skin symptoms they couldn't explain) and every single time they refused to give me a referral. Instead they did stupid shit like give me the same cream (multiple times), antibiotics, or burn the sarcoids off (cause lets just burn things that we don't know what they are) etc.

        If they'd referred me to a dermatologist they would have done a biopsy. That on its lonesome wouldn't have been a 100% diagnose, but it would have actually been an attempt to investigate what the heck was going on rather than just randomly giving me medicines.

        EDIT: As for sticking with the same GP, I think 5 visits to the one GP is enough. After all, there's a nice saying about the definition of insanity ;) To clarify, the doctor that did diagnose Sarcoidosis managed to do so near instantaneously because he did a skin biopsy. Phwoar, actual investigative medicine rather than just prescribing random medicines? Is this guy the Sherlock Holmes of GPs? (Sarcasm very much intended).

    • I'd like to reiterate that sarcoidosis is difficult to diagnose so this is a pretty good outcome…

      • Well, every case is different. Most of the time Sarcoidosis isn't diagnosed because there's no symptoms. It's frequently diagnosed by accident whilst investigating other medical issues.

        My problem wasn't that they failed to diagnose Sarcoidosis, not in the slightest. My issue was they made zero attempt to diagnose anything. As in over the course of 8 visits not a single test was ordered, nor was I referred to any specialists (despite me quite literally begging for a referral). Instead I was just prescribed seemingly random treatments. 3 of the doctors even proceeded to laugh at the treatments prescribed by other doctors in the same clinic (real professional, I know.)

        Anyway, said clinic recently stuffed up a bunch of stuff for my wife too, three times over! I had warned her not to go there anymore; hopefully that was the final straw and I can be done with the place.

        I certainly don't expect doctors to be flawless, far from it. I'd just appreciate a shred of diligence; or at least to see them try.

    • yup, I don't believe the 'bulk billed is crap because it's bulk billed' thinking. I've had good and bad, just like you, whether I paid or not. The key is to actually be involved in your own health care, ask questions, demand that test, ask more questions, follow up, take your meds, and LISTEN to your body.

  • Privacy laws. Get used to it.

  • This site is called not

  • Maybe the medical centre just wants to bill medicare for another consultation, they may feel justified in doing that because they dont want their Drs spending unpaid time reviewing results.

    Maybe they have the policy for a good reason.

    Say your new partner asks you to go to your Dr and get a full STI screen before they will have unprotected sex with you.
    You tell them you went today and the results will be in on Thursday.
    A big Thursday night gets planned.
    Your partner (or someone they put up to it) calls up the surgery on Thursday arvo, they pretend to be you and ask if the results are in. The receptionist tells them theres no results and no tests were done.

    Now the receptionist might have made a mistake or you might have lied but it doesnt matter because…
    Your psycho partner murders you when you come in from work. Its a total blood bath.

    Medical centre makes new policy not to disclose or confirm anything

    • Well, I think a sensible person would ask what is more likely.

      a) medical centre wants to make more money
      b) there are countless psychos out there that would try such a thing and also commit murder and the risk of the murder outweighs the risk of not telling somoeone that they might need to come in because they might have hiv etc

      • +17 votes

        c) someone having a whinge about medical costs even after it is subsidised and will not accept that they're not entitled to dictate how their doctor works.

        • Just because it is subsidised doesn't matter. I pay plenty of taxes, medicare levy, I am entitled to a rebate for that, the Dr is getting paid for that, usually at far above what the medicare rebate is and out of my pocket.

          Seriously don't understand why people tolerate being treated the way patients get treated by Doctors. In what other profession is this tolerated or even legal under consumer law? Certainly I would never accept the kind of treatment I often get from a Dr from a vet when taking my dog in.

          The way you say I am trying to "dictate" how you should work when I am simply asking for basic, common courtesy, that respects my time and money and is in the interests of my health is amazing and just demonstrates the attitude that you as a Dr have like most of you do. Other professions would actually listen to what their customers are saying.

          If your mechanic refused to call you when your car was ready, instead insisting that you come in every day, paying him money each time in the hope that it might be ready, you would not take that. But according to you this is fine for a Dr to do.
          If your plumber came out to unclog your sewer but instead burst your water main, you would not pay him. Yet Dr demands to be paid no how badly he stuffs up.
          You wouldn't tolerate your hairdresser running 2 hours behind and not even apologising but Drs do this all the time.
          You wouldn't tolerate your accountant refusing to let you see your tax return because you are too "stupid" to understand it yet the medical profession withholds the patient's information from patients constantly because they consider them too stupid to understand it.

          So Drs get paid no matter how extremely appalling their "service" is… unlike any other profession where results and customer service are expected.

        • I don’t find what he is saying unreasonable at all. Medical costs aside why make someone go through all the trouble of coming in again if their results may not be ready ?

          What does that information have to do with privacy ?

          • @Michegianni:

            coming in again if their results may not be ready ?

            We don't know if it is ready or not so I can't tell you why. Personally, I wouldn't schedule someone in if I knew third party work isn't ready. The patient will just be told that I they can't have an appointment any sooner.

            • @tshow: Huh? Does your receptionist consult you each time before letting a patient schedule a visit? What type of Dr are you? If a gp the receptionist doesn't ask doctor permission before scheduling a visit for an existing patient nor ask what it is for.

              You make no sense. You say you can't legally tell a patient over the phone that their results are in yet you say you would tell them they can't come in for an appointment if their results weren't there, which must involve you vetting the requested appointment before the receptionist allows it. If you tell patient they can't have an appointment they would want an explanation why you are refusing an appointment or they may consider you are abandoning them as a patient in which case they may be able to make a complaint about you if you if have not given them notice and referral to another doctor etc.

              • @abc123z: You're making a heck of a lot more assumptions.

                My receptionist are privy to my files. What I can see, they can see (exceptions exist).

                The receptionist would always ask what that appointment is for. The caller would say for a test. The receptionist will make an appointment with regards to supposed test.

                This far, my associates have not confirmed nor denied any information.

                We can achieve making a time to review results without actually saying if there were and when the tests were done. It's a skill.

                Just because you don't see how it can be done doesn't mean it cannot be done.

                • @tshow: So what if patient doesn't want to tell receptionist reason for appointment because it is private? You would deny your patient appointment? You do realise most receptionists don't ask for this (especially if you are gp)? If it is a specialist they would ask to send your referral before giving you an appointment but it is completely rubbish if they make you explain the reason for your appointment over the phone to the receptionist. Patient might be at work on the phone. They might just not just want to talk to receptionist about it.

                  You cry privacy as reason for withholding information from patients, but patient probably doesn't want to explain their reasons for their visit to your receptionist.

                  I would hope you would at least train your receptionist to explain that they only asking for a generic reason such as "routine checkup" "return for test results" "confidential issue". I do hope you aren't using your receptionist as a triage nurse either.

                  • @abc123z: You're going into bizarro world where the caller doesn't want to tell the receptionist anything.

                    I'm not a hospital and I don't do walk ins. I'm not sure what this has to do with triage.

                    • @tshow: Bizzarro world? Seriously?

                      You think the average patient would be OK with telling the receptionist all the details of their embarrassing problem like pus oozing out of their penis their exact mental health issues their bowel problems or whatever?

                      What planet do you live on?

                      And specialists do triage referrals, that is so that the most urgent patients don't wait too long.

                      • @abc123z: We make consult appointments before we receive the referrals.

                        Most patients come in with the referrals.

                        We set aside time for a consult which is usually within two weeks (unless patient wants it later). Any more urgent and the patient should be referred to the hospital.

                        At the consult, we "triage" the patient.

                        • @tshow: Ok so if you do not triage the patient at the time of making the appointment why does the receptionist need to know the reason. Are your receptionists trained to know if the appointment is unneccesary or not based on the patient's description? If they are trained wouldn't it be better for them at least to read the referral that their Dr has written rather than relying on the patient's description?

                          If you are a dr that sees patients based on referrals you should review the referral when it comes in/at the time the patient makes the appointment.

                          All decent Drs do this. Even if you only make patients wait a few weeks to see you, why would you make them wait this time and pay money to you if you can't help them or if they might need more urgent help?

                          If you do not review the referral at the time the patient makes the appointment then the patient may come in and you may find you do not wish to treat them/are unable to treat them (which is your right) but that has wasted the patients time and their money.

                          • @abc123z: For a consult, we have a preallocated time slot. A few simple questions will determine if you've been referred to the right place.

                            If the patient needs more urgent help, it isn't the issue of the specialist, that's the fault of the referring doctor.

                            In the case of oncologists where time is of the essence, it goes to a hospital, private or otherwise.

                            In the unlikely event that a foot patient came into a hand clinic, we wouldn't charge a fee. It is a rare occurrence and a consult fee waive won't break the bank.

    • Try this much more common hypothetical.

      Dr sees his patient once a year. Patient is the right age so as a precaution, Dr orders a cancer screen for bowel cancer. Patient is that age but doesn't think much of it. "It won't happen to me" mentality. Doesn't bother to follow up until much much later when symptoms manifest.

      Oops the chance to save his life with earlier intervention was just lost. Was it his fault. Well yes largely. He should have checked his results. But people fail to do things that they should all the time. Life gets busy. Other priorities get in the way.

      Should the patient lose his life on the off chance that a new psycho girlfriend decides to commit murder? Which scenario is more common do you think.

      These privacy laws shouldn't rule out common sense. Clearly the need to notify the patient can and should outweight privacy concerns sometimes. Even if it's just routinely reviewing patient results and calling with "your Dr needs to see you urgently". Sometimes covering your butt and seeming to do the right thing actually isn't in the interest of the person the rule is there to protect. In a bureaucratic "nanny state" it's all about people covering their own butts, not people's welfare.

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