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Discussing abnormal lab results

CNM   (1,815 Views 4 Comments)
by wizski wizski (New) New

wizski has 3 years experience and specializes in Transplant, Med/Surg, Internal Medicine.

1,378 Profile Views; 12 Posts

Hello All,

I would like to preface this post by explaining that I am a RN in a Women's Health Clinic, not a CNM or WHNP. (But I love you guys!)

There are times where I am asked to discuss lab results with the patient by the provider. I have no problem doing this, it is my job as a RN to explain things as best I can. I am simply looking for ways to discuss things like abnormal paps without instilling fear into the patient that they have cancer. For example, a patient was found to have an abnormal pap, LSIL HPV +. Recommendation would be a colpo. How would you explain this?

I have heard my providers explain it to patients, but I feel that many times they do not understand what they are saying and then they call back seeking more clarification. The patient population that I serve has a very low health literacy and a large amount are high school drop outs. I know with repetition I will find my own language, but I like to see what others have to say.

Thank you!

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Your pap results came back with some concerns. You have a virus called HPV. This virus can cause cervical cancer. You DO NOT have cervical cancer but because of the virus you have a chance of getting it. The virus makes the cells in the cervix change. Some of those changes are happening. When we did the pap smear we only send a couple of cells to the lab to look at under the microscope. We want to bring the microscope to the cells now. That is called a colposcopy. I then tell them just like when you get a cold it is also a virus and your body gets over the cold... same thing can happen with the HPV. Most women will get over that virus also. Some people who get a cold it can get worse and turn into pneumonia same thing with HPV virus sometimes it can get worse and turn into cancer. You know a cold turns into pneumonia cuz the symptoms get worse. There are no symptoms of HPV that you can see and that is why it is very important to follow up with the pap smears every 6 months to watch if the virus gets worse.

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Psychcns has 30 years experience and specializes in Psychiatric Nursing.

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The above may be too much information, could be overwhelming. I would try to simplify even more. Or just watch or listen carefully after each sentence to gauge what is being understood.

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cayenne06 has 10 years experience as a MSN, CNM and specializes in Reproductive & Public Health.

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I agree with emphasizing the "NOT CANCER" part. Especially with higher grade lesions, I've had patients end up with the idea that they had/have cervical cancer.

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