My writing brain is sluggish tonight. Yesterday morning started early for me; I had to beat traffic going downtown to have some labs drawn. And even though I slept in today, I'm dragging now. Thank goodness for the end to Daylight Savings Time. The day we "fall back" is one of my most favorite in the year.
When I got to the doctor's office, things were pretty quiet, unlike Wednesday afternoon, when I was there for follow-up with the new internist. The lab techs were just getting started with their preparations for the day -- filling syringes with flu vaccine, restocking vials for blood -- and I didn't have to wait to be called in. The woman with my lab orders waved me over right away and started tying a tourniquet around my arm.
"You fasting?" she asked.
I nodded. I hadn't been sure if the tests required it, but it seemed better to err on the side of caution than to have to reschedule the draw -- one of the tests could only be done first thing in the morning.
I glanced at the labels the woman had printed out for each vial of blood and noticed the number was remarkably short for what I'd seen on the day of my follow-up appointment. (The tech who had originally printed them that afternoon had advised me to wait, given the morning-only test, and have all the blood taken at the same time to save me an extra needle stick.) So -- "We're doing cortisol, anti-TPO, vitamin B-12, and vitamin D today?" I asked, just to be sure.
"Hmm? No, no, I've just got lipids and a hemoglobin A1c," the woman said. "Wait, what's your name again?" She fumbled around with her order sheet for a moment as I gave her my information. "Oh yes, I remember! The other girl said you were going to come back today to get everything done and she taped your other labels to the fridge -- "
We both turned to look at the refrigerator, whose doors were bare.
"Shoot," the woman said, untying the tourniquet. "Wait right here."
I've learned not to be surprised when snafus like this occur. Even as recently as Wednesday, there were some near-mistakes that happened -- the physician ordered the wrong test and only realized it when I asked her why she'd chosen it over an alternative that was purportedly more accurate; then the lab tech handling a urine test gave me the wrong label for the specimen cup and only realized it when I pointed out that it was for the second of two urine tests my doctor had ordered, which could only be done while I was symptomatic (I wasn't that day).
Is it just me, or does it seem like I'm having to double-check what shouldn't be mine to check in the first place?
The woman taking my blood Friday morning eventually found the labels she needed -- in a garbage can. Lucky for me; apparently, once those labels are printed, the request records leave the lab computer and go to a completely different facility where specimens are received (that way, the folks handling that step in the process know exactly what to look for). I don't know whether we would have ended up having to call the receiving facility to figure out what testing needed to be done or if anyone was even at said facility at that time of day. Either way, it wasn't going to be a simple fix.
So. I'm grateful that everything worked out in the end. I just hope the incidence of error drops in future visits. For the next set of tests, scheduled for Wednesday of the coming week, I'll be sedated -- and there's no way I can look out for myself like that!
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