Thursday, October 13, 2011
Patients should call their physicians office about test results

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Physicians see many patients every day. They frequently order lab tests, X-rays and other tests. When those tests return to the office, they then need to decide what to do with the results. Some offices call patients about all lab results. Some offices call patients only when the results are not normal. However, this depends upon the result being returned to the office. There are times when tests are ordered but the results do not get returned to the office. In these cases, there is not a report to use to call the patient. For offices that do not do many tests, a tracking system is relatively easy. They can create a file that allows them to check off when a test result is obtained. Then when the result comes in, they can cross it off. If a result does not return in a timely fashion they can follow up on it. Unfortunately, most offices do a lot of tests. Setting up a tracking system for this could be a nightmare. Even in offices with electronic medical records this could be an issue. The computer in my office lets me know if a lab or X-ray result has not yet come back. However, it waits 30 days to do so. For some results, that is a long time to wait. The date could be set to a shorter period. The problem with that is that some tests normally take a few weeks to return. A good example of this is chromosome testing that I often do. The system is set up for labs and x-rays that are not completed on time. However, it is not set up for EKGs. I often have patients return to my office for a follow up visit who have had EKGs completed. When I check the computer, the result has not yet returned. The computer did not let me know that because it was not a lab test or an X-ray. Fortunately, for my type of practice, EKG results can easily wait until the next office visit. I am a member of the Board of Medical Licensing and Discipline. It is not unusual for a patient to complain that they were not called about an abnormal test result by their physician. In most cases, it is because the result did not get to the physicians office. Therefore the physician did not know the result was abnormal. The expectation is that the physician should have had some way of knowing that the result had not come back. That may be the expectation of the patient. It might be the expectation of the Board. However, in reality, it is a much more complicated process. The question then is what should this mean to the average patient? It means several things. The first is that the patient needs to ask the physician how they will be notified about a test result when it is ordered. If the answer is that they will receive a call either way, they should then find out how long it will take for the result to come back. If they do not hear in that period of time, they need to call the office. If the answer is that they will be called only if the test is abnormal, then it would be a good idea to check and find out if that is indeed the case. Once again, there is a need to know how long before the result is expected back. After waiting that period of time, they should then call the office. They can confirm that the test has returned. They can confirm that the test was normal. There is an opportunity here for patients to make sure that their results do not slip through a crack in the system. We all need to be involved in our health care. Being passive might lead to a missed opportunity.

DPH awarded three year grant Delaware was awarded a $506,000 three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help prevent chronic diseases and promote health. The state Division of Public Health (DPH) will use the funds for programs to reduce diabetes, heart disease and chronic disease risk factors. Funded by the Affordable Care Act, the grant is part of approximately $40 million provided nationwide. Chronic diseases are responsible for 7 out of 10 deaths among Americans each year, according to HHS, and they account for nearly three fourths of the more than $2.5 trillion our nation spends annually on medical care. DPHs grant will provide expansion of the Stanford Universities Diabetes Self-Management and Chronic Disease Self-Management Programs. A third community evidence-based program will focus on the primary prevention of chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease. Other interventions include the creation of a chronic disease and health promotion advocate program and social marketing to the public and health care providers to increase awareness about chronic diseases and their risk factors. Many chronic diseases share risk factors and can be addressed by the same strategies and lifestyle changes, said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director. Helping Delawareans so they can eat healthy, be physically active and obtain health screenings will prevent disease and death and reduce health care costs.

NHS welcomes Dr. Rosell Nanticoke Health Services welcomes Wilfredo Rosell, MD to its medical staff. Dr. Rosell joins Nanticoke Health Services as an internal medicine physician and joins Seaford Internal Medicine. Dr. Rosell is a graduate of the Cebu Institute of Medicine in Cebu City, Philippines and completed his internal medicine residency at Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is board certified in internal medicine and a member of the American College of Physicians. To make an appointment with Dr. Rosell, call Seaford Internal Medicine at 629-4569.

Mentoring meeting in Georgetown The Sussex Mentoring Committee invites local businesses, community leaders, school officials and all those interested in mentoring children to a meeting at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Georgetown Middle School Auditorium. If you have an interest in helping children grow, join First Lady Carla Markell in celebrating and raising awareness of mentoring in Sussex County. Dr. Robert Andrzejewski, executive director of the Delaware Mentoring Council will introduce local mentors and mentees along with speakers from Connecting Generations; Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Communities in Schools. The purpose of this meeting is to help increase the number of mentors and mentoring supporters in Sussex County. For more information, call RSVP at 856-5815.

Memorial Scrapbook workshop Delaware Hospices Family Support Center will hold a Memorial Scrapbook workshop from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Delaware Hospice Center, 100 Patriots Way, Milford. Creating a scrapbook of meaningful events shared with a loved one is an excellent activity for keeping good memories alive. Often in grief, survivors tend to re-live the last moments Ñ putting a microscope on the way someone died. At this workshop, grievers will be encouraged to step back and see the relationship and the full picture from a telescopic view, helping to bring all the years back into focus. Participants should bring 10 to 20 photos of their loved one and other memorabilia that might be included in a scrapbook arrangement. Experienced scrapbook enthusiast, Janis Markopoulos, will facilitate this workshop. A $10 fee will help cover the costs of the workshop. Registration is required by contacting Vicki Costa, associate director of Family Support Services, at 856-7717, ext. 1129, or

New depression support groups If you have been diagnosed with depression, are currently receiving treatment and need extra support, join the Mental Health Association in Delawares newest depression support groups.

The support groups provide a safe and comfortable environment for adults who may be struggling with depressionto find others who may be going through similar experiences, learn coping skills and take back control of their life by being proactive. A support group meets in Seaford every Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The location of the meeting is provided only to registered members. To register, contact the Mental Health Association in Delaware at 302-654-6833 or 800-287-6423. These new groups are made possible due to a grant received from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delawares BluePrints for the Community program.

Lecture for health professionals The 14th annual distinguished lecture series, Decreasing Fall Risk for Persons with Balance Disorders, for health professionals is Saturday, Oct. 15 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Del Tech in Georgetown. The course is pending approval for .7 CEUs for physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, occupational therapists, and occupational therapy assistants in Delaware and in Maryland. The lecture will be presented by Dr. Susan L. Whitney, PT, DPT, PhD, NCS, ATC, FAPTA. Upon completion, participants will have an understanding of the physiological changes that occur with aging and how those changes impact function; the most current research related to falls and why falls commonly occur in older adults; various ideas for fall prevention that are effective in decreasing fall risk; and the newest interventions that are available. The course will be held in the Carter Partnership Center, Room 529 at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown. The $145 fee includes handouts, continental breakfast and lunch. To register online or by phone using VISA, MasterCard or Discover, visit or call 855-1617.

Stroke Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospitals next Stroke Support Group meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 18, 1:30 p.m. at the Seaford Library.The support group is designed for individuals who have survived a stroke as well as their families and caregivers. Modeled from the American Stroke Association, the hospital is engaging with speakers to provide education, community resources and emotional support to those who have been affected by this life-altering event. The two-hour support group meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and stroke survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support, and allow for networking. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospital at 629-6611, ext. 8626.

Relay for Life fundraiser Dr. Marie Wolfgang is again sponsoring a 12 night Winter Getaway Cruise to the Southern Caribbean as a fundraiser for Relay for Life, sailing from Cape Liberty, N.J. on Feb. 10. The itinerary includes St. Thomas, St. Kitts, St. Johns (Antigua), St. Lucia and St. Maarten (Philipsburg). Transportation to and from the dock is available. For a brochure, call or visit Dr. Wolfgangs office at One Cedar Ave. in Seaford, 629-4471. Space is limited.

Hospice hosts conference Delaware Hospices Family Support Center will hold a professional conference, Peace at Last:A Warriors Journey from Wartime to End-of-Life, with national speaker and author Deborah Grassman, RN, MS, NP, on Friday, Oct. 28, from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., at the Delaware Hospice Center, 100 Patriots Way, Milford. Deborah Grassman has been a nurse practitioner with the Veterans Administration for 26 years and director of the VA Hospice Program for 15 years. She pioneered the identification of post-trauma effects on the quality of a persons dying process, as well as ways to effectively respond to issues that surface at the end-of-life. Registration fee is $99 per person and $75 per student. Seats are limited, so early registration is recommended. Application has been made for 6.0-7.5 contact hours for nurses, social workers, counselors, nursing home administrators and funeral home services. For more information or reservations, contact Vicki Costa, 478-5707, ext. 1129 or

Bereavement luncheons Delaware Hospices New Beginnings bereavement luncheons are an informal way to meet and talk with others, who have had similar loss experiences. Lunch begins at noon and is followed by a brief program. The location rotates each week of the month throughout Sussex County. New Beginnings luncheons are open to the public. Registration is not required. There is no fee except the cost of your lunch. For more information, call Midge Dinatale or Paul Ganster at 856-7717.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. To learn more, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Diabetes Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, Seaford, will hold a free diabetes support group on Monday, Oct. 17 from 5 to 6 p.m., at the hospital. If you have diabetes, are you struggling to make positive behavior changes in your life or would you just like to share with others coping with diabetes? Come join our free support group for individuals with diabetes. Clara Dewey, LPTA, physical therapy assistant, will speak about Exercise and Diabetes on Oct. 17. There will also be a question and answer period. Registration is required. For more information and to register, contact Nanticoke Memorial Hospitals Diabetes Education department at 629-6611, ext. 2446. Bike-a-thon riders fight cancer Ron Breeding is calling on Seaford residents again to join the St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital Wheels For Life Bike-a-thon slated for Sunday, Oct. 16 at 2 p.m., at West Seaford Elementary School. Volunteer workers and riders are needed for this Bike-a-thon to raise funds for the world famous research center in its battle against childhood cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases. Were looking for riders who will contribute their time and talent to help children live. We really need lots of riders, since they are the ones who can make this bike-a-thon successful, Breeding said. In the Wheels for Life Bike-a-thon, riders ask sponsors to make donations based on each mile completed. All riders turning in money will receive a certificate. Those who raise $35 will receive a certificate and a special St. Jude T-shirt. When $75 is raised, the rider receives a sports bag and anyone raising over $150 will get a fleece blanket. Plans are being made to give a $100 savings bond to the top fundraiser. The Seaford Kiwanis Club will host the event for the 25th year by providing refreshments. Entry forms are available at all school offices, the Nemours Health and Prevention Office, and City Hall. Anyone wishing to provide a prize, sponsor a rider or participate in the ride, should call Ron Breeding at 629-3964.

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