To test or not to test?

During the pandemic, one of my pre-teen daughters got sick while a series of illnesses, including COVID-19, were all going through her school.

We went to our family doctor, who thought she either had a respiratory virus or COVID-19.

What were the actions we would need to take for each?

The doctor said that either way, my daughter would need to quarantine for 10 days. And the illness would need to run its course—there was no medicine that would make her better, faster. Then, she called for the nurse to administer a PCR test for COVID-19.

Alone in the waiting room, my daughter and I talked about the value and cost of having the test done. My daughter decided that there would be no real value, outside of being able to label her illness, as her actions would be the same. But there was a significant cost. She despised the “nose tickle.” Plus, she had read the news stories about how backed up testing was as nurses, lab techs, and other staff struggled with the continual deluge of testing. If they weren’t working on her test, that had no real value, what else might they be doing, or who else might they be helping?

We went home without taking the test.

My daughter not only enjoyed the agency of working through the options with us, but felt good about the decision.

(Special thanks to the Society of Decision Professionals, for sharing personal stories from their members—experts in the field and also parents, spouses, friends, and family-members.)

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