This question comes from knittinggoddess
's post about her experience at an STD clinic.
In the post she mentioned the discretion when checking in where they didn't say out loud why she was there and whispered it to someone else (another staff member?).
I'm a nurse at a GYN office and this got me thinking. At the front desk when checking people in we don't mention why they are there at all, because we are appointment only. We usually ask over the phone and just put it in the notes so we know. Sometimes patients don't feel comfortable telling us over the phone and I don't know why they're there until I get them in a room and then they tell me they want STD testing.
My role if they want testing outside the standard chlamydia/gonorrhea swab is to take them to our phlebotomist to get bloodwork for HIV, syphillis, Hep B and Hep C. For the swab, among staff we call it "CT/NG" or "GenProbe", and other patients wouldn't know what that meant. But the bloodwork is called "STD panel." There's really no other name for it. The lab is in a semi-common area and I make an effort to not say it when other patients are within earshot. But I have also made a point of just saying, "Hey Tiffany, can I get an STD panel?" and she says, "Yeah no problem". I don't shout it, but I don't whisper or anything. My reasoning behind this is because I don't want to make the patient feel like there is something wrong
with her getting STD testing. Whispering seems like it's marginalizing the patient or that she should be ashamed of it.
If you were my patient what would you think of this? Given that there isn't another patient obvious right there
, would it still bother you because you'd be afraid
of other people hearing? Would this bother you because it's toeing the line of HIPAA? Would you prefer I point it out on the form or whisper? Or would you appreciate that the way I order the test indicates that it's really no big deal and we aren't judging you in any way?
I feel I am very non-judgmental when they ask for the test in the room, as well. 75% of patients always quickly follow up this request with the disclaimer, "I'm not worried or anything, I just want to check!" and I say, "No problem! Nothing wrong with checking up just to know your status." I really do want the patient to know I don't think any less of her or that she's "dirty" for requesting this test. So that's my thought process behind it and the kind of personality I have with my patients, but I don't know if it makes a difference when I act that way about it when we're out of the room and there's a slight
possibility another patient that happens to be around the corner in the hallway at the moment may hear me.
Just curious. I don't know these things unless I ask.