My most embarrassing mistake

In my first year of practice, a college student came in because she hadn't had her menstrual cycle in two months and this was very unusual for her--she normally came on like clockwork. Of course, my first question was, "Is there any possibility you could be pregnant?"

Absolutely not, she insisted, shaking her head. "I broke up with my boyfriend a long, long time ago and I haven't had sex in like, forever."

Hmmm. My brain rattled off the differential: stress, polycystic ovary disease, hormone imbalance, thyroid disease, ovarian cyst or mass, endometriosis.

During her exam, I thought I felt a slight pelvic mass. Concerned, I ordered a pelvic ultrasound and some blood tests.

Imagine my embarrassment when two days later, the radiologist called to inform me the "pelvic mass" was a baby!  My patient had conceived about eight weeks ago and the baby had a healthy, beating heart.

I felt like a fool. I'd ordered a $500 pelvic ultrasound when a $4 pregnancy test would have made the diagnosis.

I clenched my teeth, fuming that the patient had lied to me. She'd insisted there was "no way" she could be pregnant and that it had been "forever" since she'd had sex. Right! When I called to inform her she was pregnant, she confirmed that she and the boyfriend had indeed had unprotected sex about eight weeks ago, shortly before they'd broken up. It appears her definition of a "long, long time" and "forever" were decidedly different from mine!

I learned my lesson. Now, when a high school or college girl claims there is "no way" she could be pregnant, I still run the pregnancy test to be 100% sure. I have picked up at least a half-dozen pregnancies in girls who claimed they were virgins or used condoms "every time" they had sex. Only after informing them of the positive pregnancy test will they confess, "Well, there was that one time. . ."