Reviews PERSONAL VIEW

Text messaging and breaking bad news

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7501.1217 (Published 19 May 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1217
  1. Monica Lamont, breast clinician ([email protected])
  1. United Bristol Healthcare Trust, Bristol

    It all began with a routine screening mammogram squeezed in over the lunch period between breast assessment clinics. As I watched my films slide out of the processor, there it was in my left breast: a tiny spiculate smudge. I asked my rather bemused radiographer colleague to do further views of my left breast. It didn't go away. I sneaked into the empty ultrasound room and, with one eye on the door, quickly placed the ultrasound scanner on my breast through a small modest window in my clothing. I thought I could see something. Then again perhaps I couldn't. Any breast clinician will tell you that ultrasonography is not normally performed under these conditions.

    I then sent my first text message of many to my friend and colleague. “Hi, I think there is a small breast cancer on my mammogram. Can I see you before clinic tomorrow? Mammos are on your desk. M.” As is typical of any doctor who becomes a patient, the diagnosis was not easy, and eventually, after a highly suspicious magnetic resonance image, …

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