Gwen and Dan Olsen were a handsome couple with a stunning blonde eight-year-old daughter, Trina. They had just moved to the town where I did my residency and over the course of their first six months there I saw all three of them for routine health care needs.
One day Gwen came in for nausea. She didn’t look well and I could see in her facial expression that something was dreadfully wrong. Thinking unplanned pregnancy and morning sickness, I glanced at her problem list, where her husband’s vasectomy was listed, in my own handwriting, as her method of contraception.
“I’m pregnant”, she burst out, tears suddenly streaming down her cheeks. I sat quietly for a while. She didn’t say anything.
“Dan had a …”, I started.
“He’s not the father”, Gwen said.
Wiping her tears she described how she had gone back to her parents for a visit, run into an old boyfriend and found herself doing the unthinkable.
“Does Dan know?” I asked.
“What do you want to do?” I didn’t say the A-word, but she understood.
“We’ve talked it over and we’re going through with the pregnancy as if it were Dan’s baby”, she began. “He’s promised me he will love us both just as much as if he were the father. We’ll just tell people the vasectomy must have failed.”
“Those things happen”, I said.
“Will you be my doctor for the pregnancy?” she asked.
“Of course”, I nodded.
“And please don’t put anything in my medical record about it not being Dan’s.”
“Of course”, I reassured her.
That fall I delivered a beautiful baby boy to two of the nicest, proudest parents I know. I was able to see him, his parents and his sister through two years of well baby visits, shots and minor childhood illnesses during the last two years of my residency.
Several years later I happened to run into the four Olsens again. Little Brad looked just like his mother.
Today I read in a journal that a large percentage of patients won’t tell their doctor sensitive information if they believe their information might be shared electronically with other doctors, hospitals or insurance companies.
Some things are better left off the record.