Straight-talking, compassionate professionals ease patient’s stress over stress test

A patient expresses gratitude to Mass General Imaging’s “remarkable” Nuclear Cardiology team, earning the team an Excellence in Action citation from Mass General.

Left to Right: Tara Grant, Peter Slavin MD, Anabela Lobo, Jeannine Hughes, Efstathios Antoniades MD, Anais Morales, Jae Lee, Paul Doerr, William Desisto, Karen Miguel, Mary Ritter, Giuliana Arcovio, Jarrod Moon.

The cardiac stress test with imaging, performed by Mass General Imaging's Nuclear Cardiology team, can be a trying experience for patients. In addition to concern over the health issue that made the test necessary in the first place, patients may feel understandably anxious about the test itself. That’s because the exam can take up to three hours and involves scary sounding elements like a radioactive tracer medicine and either a period of treadmill exercise or, in cases where exercise is not possible, the use of another medicine that purposely stresses the heart.

The patient who wrote the letter below had done her research about the test beforehand, and came in with questions about potential risks. Happily, the professionals she encountered at Mass General Imaging took the time to listen to her concerns and explained the many safety measures in place without sugarcoating the facts. Their professionalism and empathy assured the patient that she was in good hands, and the staff then administered the test, which she passed with flying colors.

The patient’s letter earned the Nuclear Cardiology staff an “Excellence in Action” award, given by Mass General’s clinical leadership to recognize the delivery of exemplary medical care.

I must tell you how very impressed I am with the way in which the test was completed at Mass General Imaging. To be specific, the entire staff could not have been more effective in how they treated me. Their interpersonal skills in assisting me and answering all my questions were superb, and believe me, I had many! They also could not have been more professional or understanding of my having to walk with a cane—assisting and anticipating my limited mobility.

A pivotal point for me was the administration of the adenosine [medicine that induces stress]. I shared with them my new-found research knowledge. They were very understanding of my concern, not dismissing my inquiry but talking about it relative to the safety measures that they employ during the testing process. They addressed my specific fears in real, concrete and understandable terms. Additional, they were friendly, encouraging, and displayed a sense of humor that lowered my level of concern.

Three staff members then coached me through the entire process of the administration of the adenosine, throughout which I remained an active participant. At the end they administered a drug to neutralize the adenosine, which quickly brought me back to normal. There was never a time in the entire pharmaceutical phase of the process that I ever doubted for a second that I was in the best hands possible.

As a team the staff was amazingly organized and extremely knowledgeable. Their easy-going manner put me at ease when I was really quite anxious. They are remarkable and there are simply not enough superlatives to describe them! I am grateful that I am a patient at Mass General.


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