I was referred to Bellegrove OB/GYN by a close friend that had good experiences with this office.
At 8 weeks pregnant with my third child, I had my first prenatal appointment with Dr. Hal Zimmer at Bellegrove OB/GYN. As is customary, several tubes of blood were taken for testing. Two days later, I received a phone call on my cell phone from Meagan, one of Dr. Zimmer’s nurses. Being the week before Christmas, I was shopping with an entire cart full of presents. She stated that my blood results had come back and since I am positive for the Hepatitis B virus, she wanted to give me the number to the maternal-fetal clinic. I was in shock! I asked Meagan to explain what this virus is and how I could have gotten it. She said she was not sure and was “looking it up as we speak”. I began sobbing uncontrollably and ditched my cart and headed for the exit and to the privacy of my vehicle. In a panic, I told her she needed to get Dr. Zimmer or another doctor on the phone to explain what this means. She put on another nurse who explained that Dr. Zimmer was not in the office but I could speak with Dr. Coe. I agreed and Dr. Coe got on the phone and tried to explain Hepatitis B. He claimed it is a sexually-transmitted disease but could also be from sharing needles, getting a vaccination and is also “airborne”. I asked him if he was sure because I didn’t know much about Hepatitis but I did know that it is supposedly not airborne. I even asked, “Why would they call it a sexually-transmitted disease if it is airborne, wouldn’t that make a cold also sexually-transmitted?” He replied, “Absolutely not”. I hung up the phone and cried hysterically for an hour before having to pick up my other two children from school. I then called my primary care provider at Virginia Mason to see if they could run more tests for Hepatitis B. Dr. Potts made time for me to come in the following morning for counseling and more testing.
After a full day of crying and little sleep, I stumbled into Dr. Potts office on the following morning. Dr. Potts explained the Hepatitis B infection, transmission and treatment in full, assuring me that there was a good chance it was a false-positive since I have had two other children with negative HB tests, I’m in a monogamous 10-year marriage and have never come in contact with anyone else’s blood. I was then sent to the lab for a full panel of tests to be sure. I headed directly over to Dr. Zimmer’s office to ask for a copy of the positive test results. Dr. Zimmer took a substantial amount of time to explain the virus (about time but much appreciated), apologizing for Dr. Coe’s wrong information. Meagan also peeked in to say she was sorry for the way she handled calling with the results and that “the important thing is that I’ve calmed down.” How insulting… I responded that the important thing is that she never discloses a positive test result with such disregard again.
Within two days, I was contacted by a Virginia Mason nurse letting me know that my tests all looked “negative” but they were running them a couple more times to be sure. I asked for a copy of the test results and within an hour I dropped a copy off to Bellegrove OB/GYN, asking them to give it to Meagan or Dr. Zimmer as I was told that they were both unavailable. I have yet to receive a phone call from this office. A week after the test I received a call from the Medical Director of the lab that processed the “positive” blood test. He said “I am sure you have already been contacted by Dr. Zimmer’s office letting you know that we have redone your blood tests and you are negative for Hepatitis B.” I explained that I have not been contacted at all but I appreciated his call. He assured me that I did not test positive in any area for ever having or being exposed to the Hepatitis B virus.
I realize that accidents and errors happen. Bellegrove OB/GYN should have had the decency to call me to let me know that PacLab had retested and realized an error. Hepatitis B is a very serious virus that can lead to liver cancer. It is not the type of positive test that should be casually mentioned over a cell phone to a pregnant mother, without counseling. I have never felt so mistreated by a medical professional or another person in general. The lack of professionalism and empathy shown by both Dr. Zimmer and his nurse, Megan, is an absolute shame.