True story: I saw a 2-year-old as a follow-up to his trip to the emergency room a few days previously. He was a healthy boy who developed vomiting and diarrhea, and his worried parents took him to the ER. There, a truckload of x-rays, blood tests, and stool tests were done. Among the pages of results were a few that were somewhat abnormal, so they kept him in the hospital for about ten hours and repeated them. They were still “abnormal”, but since the child had stopped having any symptoms—he was “running around, tearing up the place,” Dad said—they sent him home, to see me in a few days.
The tests, combined with radiologists’ fees, cost about $3,000. None of them helped the child, and none of them were necessary. In fact, they led to a prolongation of his ER stay (more money!), scared the parents, and ended up getting the poor child stuck with needles two more times.
What’s the harm in doing extra labs or x-rays?
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