A Clear And Reasonable Report

A Facebook friend recently posted about reading the amusing, ‘doctor-ese’ comments one of her physicians wrote to another.  It brought to mind a cryptic, legalese-filled test result I once received that left me uncertain as to whether I should feel relieved or worried.

The letter began by reporting that I did not “appear” to have any concerning spots.  Having watched far too many courtroom dramas, I had an instant image of the trim, suited young defense lawyer objecting, “Your Honor, the letter CLEARLY states that my clients only said the plaintiff did not APPEAR to have cancer.  At no point did they say she did NOT have cancer. If she drew that conclusion on her own, that is certainly not my CLIENTS’ responsibility.”  My conclusion:  So I probably don’t, but I possibly could.  Well, I already knew that; it describes everyone on the planet.

Sustained.  Continue.

Further, the letter pointed out grave factors including dense tissue and hard-to-detect types of cancer that made it impossible to report anything with certainty. The incredulous lawyer is back on his feet protesting, “Will it PLEASE the Court to witness that my clients, pursuant to paragraph 3, stated UNEQUIVOCALLY the CIRCUMSTANCES that render a diagnosis IMPOSSIBLE, to wit – tissues and types.”   My conclusion:  To quote the thwarted Pharisees of Mark 11:33, “We do not know.”

Sustained.  The Plaintiff was duly informed.  Continue.

Finally, the letter stated oft and bold that these findings were “as reported to us.”  Vague third and fourth parties, the radiographer and radiologist, I presume, were the responsible diagnosticians here, not the mere mouthpiece letter-writers.  Again, the strident young lawyer:  “Your Honor, my clients made it crystal clear that they were conveyors in good faith of and ONLY of information supplied to them by an ENTIRELY SEPARATE entity. My clients did not administer the test.  They did not read the results.  They merely reported VERBATIM.”  At this point he would place an earnest hand over his heart, inviting us all to bless the hearts of the beleaguered letter-writers, so maligned, so misunderstood.  My conclusion:  The letter-writers employed the age-old tactic of deflecting attention left and right and hoping no one notices you. We’ve all done it – when chores are being handed out or volunteers are sought.  Sometimes there’s a convenient lamp to hide behind.

Sustained again.  Counselor, closing argument?

“Yes, Your Honor, what my client said in the letter was, in essence, and only a fool would misunderstand, ‘You do not have cancer, but for the record, we are not saying you don’t have cancer.  Actually, we don’t know if you do or not, but if you do we weren’t the ones who missed it.  We weren’t even there!’  A clearer, more reasonable report could not have been written.”

The defense rests.


~ Life in a small town compels me to clarify that the letter-writers mentioned above are not my current health care providers who are wonderful.