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Cryptic GP's receptionist - what does she mean?!

(10 Posts)
Bluecloud Tue 21-Jul-09 21:43:11

I had bloods taken last week to test for potential thyroid problem.

I rang for the results today and the receptionist checked my name, address etc, said she had the test results, then asked to put me on hold.

Conversation then went like this:

Receptionist: "Your results are fine".

Me: "Oh, ok, no need to do anything else
then?"

R (rustles and talks to someone with hand over phone) "Well, they're all fine but one. You need to make an appointment with your GP for a chat that's all".

Me: "Er, which one's not fine?"

R: "The serum".

Me: (not knowing what the heck serum is) "Oh. But apart from that all the results are fine? Even my thyroid?"

R: "Yes thats fine. But its recommended you make an appointment with your GP".

WTF? Naturally I have since Googled and found out the serum is tested in relation to a lot of functions including liver, kidney and thyroid, ie she might as well have said my blood tests were all fine except for my blood!!

Is this a common doctors surgery tactic to say results are fine, apart from one which needs a "chat" - so as not to scare patients before they see their GP - or is the receptionist as daft/misinformed as she sounds?

(BTW feel free to tell me the truth, I am not a panicker and had a baby recently so not concerned it's anything super-serious, as had tests done then, obviously.)

DebiNewberry Tue 21-Jul-09 21:57:18

cholesterol? If the result were very not fine, the gp would have called you... promise.

Bluecloud Tue 21-Jul-09 22:09:15

Really? That's good.

Why not say cholesterol though? Why say "The serum?"

Although I am really not sure my practise would have phoned me straight away if I did have a thyroid issue or similar (unless I was at deaths door). They are not exactly fast paced.

For example I had an swab taken from my CS scar which had burst and was leaking yellow fluid everywhere (swab was rushed by the MW directly from my house to the doctors surgery for faster processing than if it went through the hospital, apparently hmm) from which specific antibiotics were meant to be prescribed. (I had been given weak all-purpose anti-bi's 3 days previously which hadn't touched the infection in fact it had got a lot worse).

I was told I would be phoned with the result within 48 hours. I heard nothing then when I eventually chased the surgery myself on the third day and enquired about the results it was "clear". What was clear exactly? (an infection was not in question as pus was oozing out of an inflamed new scar). Just "clear", I was told hmm.

Scar took ages to heal.

EccentricaGallumbits Tue 21-Jul-09 22:14:25

She's a receptionist and doesn't know how to interpret results. She's just looking at them on a screen and if any are slightly skew wiff they'll be highlighted in red and then she has to tell you to make an appointment with the Doc.
No idea what sort of serum was tested. Make an appointment and talk to someone who knows what they are talking about.

thumbwitch Tue 21-Jul-09 22:18:55

What Eccentrica said. It isn't reasonable to expect a receptionist to be able to tell you what is wrong, nor should she - it's not her job and it would be wrong of her to try. It might have sounded cryptic to you but she was just doing what she is supposed to - highlighting a result that is outside normal range that you need to discuss with a health professional.

lisad123 Tue 21-Jul-09 22:22:57

yep agree if anything major, GP would call you.

Bluecloud Tue 21-Jul-09 22:26:30

Well I wouldn't expect a receptionist to diagnose the problem.

I was just trying to establish if the protocol of receptionists in general is that they can see exactly which element of the test has come back skewed but are instructed to say something like "the serum" instead of pecifically "thyroid", "cholesterol" etc (naturally without explaining any further) so as not to worry the patient before the GPs appt, IYSWIM).

Having said that, referring back to CS scar episode, a receptionist at same surgery grilled me as what the problem was when I rang for an appt re the infection first time round. When I said CS scar was hot, red and bumpy she said tersely "well it will be wont it" and wouldn't give me an appt until 3 days later shock by which point it had got much worse.

whomovedmychocolate Tue 21-Jul-09 22:29:57

It might help if I explain what happens these days:

(1) The lab processes the sample and provides results as a number plus a range (for example, you might have the result of 10 where the normal was 7 -14.) These are send electronically to the GP surgery.
(2) The GP on duty will review them - IF they are shockingly bad, s/he asks the receptionist to contact you and get you in. Or if they are really dire they might do it themselves.
(3) The receptionist will look at the range and if you are in it, then she will say it's fine or clear. However if the number is not in the norm she has to ask you to talk to the GP.

Now it can be that for example, your B6 level is 6 when it should be 7. Bummer - that probably means you have just had your period <bites hand worriedly wink> and if you retest in a week it'll be fine.

But receptionists aren't able to say that of course (though I bet the majority of them can figure it out after a year or so in the job).

In any case, stop worrying. It probably means repeating the test.

Bluecloud Tue 21-Jul-09 22:36:30

Thank you, wmmc. That makes the process a lot clearer smile

Bluecloud Thu 23-Jul-09 14:43:54

Update: I had my GPs visit today and all the ranges are normal except... the thyroid. As suspected I do indeed have an underactive thyroid and am outside the highest level of a normal range. Given that I have been pregnant this year, I have to be retested in 3 months to see if it is the pregnancy effect settling down or if it is seperate to the pregnancy.

As I said, although my GP is very good, I didn't think they would be ringing me (unless at deaths door) and I was right. smile

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