How would you counsel this patient?

This 2:45 clip from this week’s “Brothers and Sisters” dramatizes one of the most difficult experiences patients and physicians face in health care (make sure you watch the whole clip).

I was struck by the way the physician pre-counseled Calista Flockhart’s character:

  • Should she have provided information differently?
  • What should she have said if the result from the test wasn’t going to come back the same day?

With this vignette and another on 30Rock that I posted about previously, I imagine that the shows are trying to show a real view of health care, and also, for those who have experienced these situations, the hope that maybe the way things are today could be different.

This may be especially true now that we know that 7.1 % of abnormal tests in general and a percentage of abnormal imaging results may go unreported to patients.

It will be interesting to watch as this story unfolds if the character and her family are as involved in the care as they want to be. Will the pathology result be available to the patient and her family online?

Ted Eytan, MD