“Can you just text it to me?”
My patient was awaiting the results of her urinalysis, but couldn’t stay in the emergency department any longer; she needed to pick up her kids. I had offered to send the results to her doctor, but she wanted them immediately and directly. I hesitated, conflicted.
The request was both reasonable and, from my perspective as a busy emergency department (ED) physician, persuasive. Many tests I order—such as those looking for strep throat, flu, STDs, or, as with this patient, UTIs—can take hours to come back, are often perfectly normal, and if abnormal, may only necessitate a prescription that can be called in to a pharmacy just as well as handed over in person. Sending a patient home to await results is more comfortable and convenient for them, and allows me to open up an ED bed and see other patients in the meantime.