Improve communication between doctors and patients

Improve communication between doctors and patients

SINGAPORE - MY MOTHER underwent a check-up at the Singapore General Hospital on June 5. The doctor went through her medical records with us, and said she would need to go for a blood test and X-rays.

He briefed us on the X-ray procedure but did not mention the blood test, so I assumed it would be a routine one.

However, I noticed unusually high charges for the test, and found out that the doctor had arranged for my mother to take a "myeloma panel" blood test, which cost $368 before subsidies.

I asked a nurse what this test was for, and was told it was related to cancer. Later, the doctor told us about the X-ray results, but as the blood test results were not ready, we were asked to wait outside.

Later, the nurse told us there was no problem with the tests and we were asked to go home. I asked her for a printout of the results, and later realised the "myeloma panel" results were pending.

It is the hospital's responsibility to explain to patients what tests they are undergoing, especially if these are uncommon. It should explain the reason for such tests, and ask if the patient is willing to pay hundreds of dollars for them, as some may not be able to afford them.

A week after the check-up, I called the hospital to file a complaint and asked for the test result of the myeloma panel.

Up to now, I have not received it, and was told the doctor did what he felt was in the best interest of my mother.

I was happy with the hospital's quick service and quality of health care, but I hope it can improve the communication between doctors and patients.

Jane Fong (Madam)

This article was first published on MONTH DAY, 2014.
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