I saw a couple who had been married for 45 years. He was a retired dentist who had suffered a stroke but could
walk with a metal quad-cane. When I looked through his medical record and picked up the radiologist's report for
his chest X-ray, it said, "lung mass."
Before breaking that kind of news, I wanted to see the film myself. I excused myself, went to the radiology
department, put the film on a lightbox and consulted our radiologist physician-to-physician.
As he described the lung mass in deep, stentorian tones, I noticed that while the first and last name stamped on
the film were the same as my patient's, the middle initial and identification number were different. It turned out
the X-ray of my patient, the retired dentist, was perfectly normal.
I returned to the exam area, sat down and fully explained the error to my patient. I watched as the patient and
his wife of 45 years communicated without words. They had been married that long! They smiled, nodded and thanked
me for my thoroughness and candor.
To this day, I don't know how I could have done any less and still comply with the College's guidelines on