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The Boston Globe

Health & wellness

You’ve got mail: Someone else’s medical test results

The first e-mail came at the end of June. It was from a doctor’s office in another state -- a large cardiology group. The note listed the name of a test. It listed the full name of the patient. It listed the full name of the doctor who treated that patient. It said the test was normal and provided a number that I could call for more information. Presumably, this was supposed to be good news. But it was someone else’s test result.

I’ve written before about the accidental voyeurism that can happen when you have a common e-mail address, and misaddressed notes to other people begin to stack up. I have both a common name and a common e-mail, and receiving and deleting notes from another Carolyn Johnson’s boyfriends, church groups, real estate clients, neighborhood watch groups, potential future employers, financial aid officers, and students has pretty much become a part of my daily routine. Recently, though, I’ve noticed a new kind of misrouted e-mails that seem less trivial than some of the other unwelcome missives that show up in my inbox. These are notes or test results from other people’s doctor’s offices.

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