He chuckled to himself. Potassium level?

Let’s make this one 6.5….

He hit enter then scanned down the list. 

Ahhh… a 90 year old woman. Perfect!

This time he picked the sodium level. 


In thirty minutes he had changed the results on over three dozen patients. Just one or two per provider, not enough to cause much of a stir…. Since none of the docs at the various system clinics spoke to each other.


Potassium level 6.5? No eveidence of hemolysis noted. Damn.

She sighed and dialed the patient’s number, hoping he would pick up.

“Hello?” a male voice said

“Mr. James?”

“That’s me…”

“This is Dr. Stephens. I was calling to discuss your lab results. Do you have a second?”

“Sure, Doc!”

“Your potassium is showing as rather elevated. Most of the time this ends up being an error but at this level, if it is true, it can kill you. We need to get it rechecked. The best place to do that is the ER. They will recheck the levels and do an EKG and if it is really elevated they can bring it down.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, sir. I know going to the ER is not a cheap proposition but I don’t feel like at this level we have much of a choice.”

He sighed audibly. “Ok, Doc. If you say so. Should I go right now?”

“Yes. I’ll call ahead and let them know you are coming and why.”

She had alerted the lab to these abnormal results several times. Each and every time it seemed they were proven false. It had been occurring since the mandate that all providers had to use the system laboratory instead of sending their samples to an outside place. Invariably she was told it must be a problem with the way staff was drawing the blood. 

Only it wasn’t… She knew that was not possible.


The board gave a standing ovation. Revenue for the system had reached an all time high. It had been a banner quarter. Things had been looking grim for so long….

A nondescript figure in a dark suit with a light blue silk tie sat silently in the corner, arms crossed, smiling to himself. 


104 thoughts on “Veracity

  1. Holy ****.
    My core biopsy result wasn’t what was expected (came back as normal fatty tissue) and the Consultant called me back earlier than my appointment time to have a second (and more painful) which she did herself. The rest is as they say history, though I can appreciate things can be misread or misinterpretted. To think though that someone would deliberately tamper with blood results is horrifying.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Another excellent job. This stuff really happens. I’ve known of one person injecting cement as a form of plastic surgery. I know of another one who watered down botox and charged full price for the injections. (That one happend in Idaho.) If there is money involved all things are possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I find this particularly frightening as I had a recent run-in with the hospital about my potassium level. I’d just had a blood test to check my thyroid and cholesterol. I was rung the next day to be told I had to go to A&E because my potassium level was dangerously low. They asked me all the usual questions and discovered from me that I was feeling fine and had no symptoms. They added a drip to up the potassium which I had to stay in overnight for and by the next day I had all the symptoms! I kept telling them but they took no notice and discharged me in a terrible state with potassium pills and a new pill for my reflux. I took the first of these that evening, became much worse (sick and breathless) and thought I was going to die (but I wasn’t going to go back to the hospital!). I decided to stop the pills and gradually got better. I subsequently heard that their blood test machine could sometimes be faulty. Succeeding tests and checks have are still saying my potassium is low so I don’t know what’s going on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would check with your PCP and ask them why it is still happening and if it is real. Low is less likely to be false than high but there are a myriad of things that can cause a persistently low potassium.


  4. OMG I had a heart attack when I read this…. then I realized it was either fiction or you were seeing some of our documentation…. 5.6 6.5….what’s in a number? hahah….
    I have some stories about our coding and our EX-quality director that make this almost not fiction….. but…. ((((smile))))

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ok, I am suitably scared, my paranoid levels are heading towards the roof! Are you going to unscare me, bring me down to manageable levels, or should I just go and hide myself somewhere in the Himalayas now??

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’d ask how can I get this test done at a more reasonable cost. That’s not what medical providers want to hear, but I’d be respectfully persistent. Even with my insurance, I would think the ER visit would be too expensive for me in a situation like this. Yeah, I know, I’m not a doctor.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Writing Links in the 3s and 6…1/30/17 – Where Genres Collide

  8. I sometimes wonder at the turn of world events whether I should write about it as non-fiction (I got me a good number of solid facts) or Fiction (in which I dabble from time to time)
    Maybe you can take your fight against dehumanization of medicine to a higher level with Fiction. Either way you’re good.

    Liked by 1 person

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