An older gentlemen had an appointment to see the urologist who shared an office with several other doctors. The waiting room was filled with patients. As He approached the receptionist desk he noticed that the receptionist was a large unfriendly woman who looked like a Sumo wrestler.
He gave her his name.
In a very loud voice, the receptionist said, "YES I HAVE YOUR NAME RIGHT HERE; YOU WANT TO SEE THE DOCTOR ABOUT IMPOTENCE, RIGHT?"
All the patients in the waiting room snapped their heads around to look at the very embarrassed man. He recovered quickly, and in an equally loud voice replied, "NO, I'VE COME TO INQUIRE ABOUT A SEX CHANGE OPERATION, BUT I DON'T WANT THE SAME DOCTOR THAT DID YOURS."
Unfortunately...I did that to a patient once. Although...really...I did know better, but I was rushing because we were so busy. It is second nature for me to be discreet and protective of a patient's privacy or anyone else for that matter, but the ER was busy and the out patients were coming in one after the other.
Anyway, this was before OSHA standards were implemented for patient specimens. In our hospital we had to take them directly from the patients. Also, the doctors or their staff would drop them off by us too. These things weren't encased or wrapped in anything and we didn't wear gloves. But I digress.
So this well dressed man comes up to me at the counter and gives me his lab order. It was for a 24 hour urine. The waiting room was packed (right behind him and same room as registration) and there were people near him at the counter waiting for their turn. (pre HIPPA days too) Without taking the crowded area into consideration...I blurted out, "DO YOU HAVE YOUR 24 HOUR URINE WITH YOU?"
That poor man! I swear he shrank before my eyes and I could see he was mortified with embarrassment. He leaned closer to me over the counter and said in a real hushed voice, "I was hoping to do this quietly so no one would notice." I was instantly sorry for being so insensitive and I apologized. He then handed me the big brown container. He must've felt like all eyes were on him and the container at that point. At least he got to leave right after that.
From the staff perspective...if you've seen one specimen ...you've seen a hundred. Still...to that one patient...it IS a big deal and sometimes they have to muster up the courage to come in to do these things in the first place. And so they don't need to be further embarrassed because of the staff's insensitivity.
It was a lesson I learned at his expense and I never made that mistake again.