Repeating Medical Tests Could Save a Life


repeating a medical test may save a life. An error can occur or 24 hours may be needed for the abnormality to be seen.

I was talking with a woman  the other day who had had an episode of bleeding from her bladder. She saw a urologist who was not impressed and didn't do any tests. I had urged  her to get a second opinion, but she works full-time and seemed to trust  the urologist, who I know from personal experience is most inadequate. She finally saw him again, but his nurse practitioner looked at a urine specimen and said it was clear, so the doctor said there was nothing to be done. What I explained to the woman was that one urine specimen can be clear and on the same day there can be blood in the urine. The doctor should  have examined the inside of the bladder or done a cystoscopy. After I gave a couple of examples of  patients whose life was saved by my repeating tests, she agreed to see another urologist. She has good insurance, so money was not the issue.

One case I  told  her about  was a child who was quite ill and on whom my partner did a spinal tap. It was clear, but the next day when I was on call, the parents  called saying the child was still quite ill. I immediately met the family in the ER and felt I needed to do another spinal tap. The  parents were not happy about this, but agreed. Pus spurted out as I inserted the needle into the child's spine. He had meningitis and had to be immediately hopitalized, but recovered completely.

Another case I told her about was a teenager who felt ill, but I could not find anything wrong. I checked a urine, but it was clear. I asked the mother to bring her back the  next day and asked for another urine. "You did one yesterday" , the mother said. "Yes," I said, "I won't charge you, but I want  another urine. The specimen the girl gave me was dark brown. She had glomerulonephritis, a serious  kidney infection. It responded well to antibiotics and the teenager did well. So reapeating tests and also X-rays can be life-saving.


Article last time updated on 27.03.2018.

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