A “stat” order means that the medical test ordered by your doctor- eg. an MRI, complete blood count, angiogram- should occur immediately. It also means your doctor should learn the results of the test as soon as they’re available. A “stat” order suggests a possible emergency condition, one where treatment must immediately be undertaken. Tests not designated as “stat” can occur when possible- a few hours, the next day or even next week.
A patient entering an ER complaining of severe pain running down both legs with weakness or numbness in his feet or legs could signify a condition called Cauda Equina Syndrome, a medical emergency requiring immediate surgery. It generally results from a central herniated disc which contacts the nerve roots lying in the spinal canal. If the condition is not diagnosed early, and the nerve roots remain compressed, a patient can wind up with permanent bowel/bladder problems, foot drop (inability to lift the foot up while walking), sexual dysfunction, and general difficulty using the leg(s). An MRI will not diagnose the condition, but is used to confirm it. Referral to a spinal surgeon must occur if the condition is suspected.
I have seen cases where a doctor orders a test on a “stat” basis, but does not follow up and learn the results. The doc goes home for the evening and when (s)he returns the next day, the patient’s condition has turned for the worse. Permanently. The negative effects on the patient’s quality of life as a result of the doctor’s nonchalant attitude could’ve been avoided.
If only the “stat” test results had occurred as ordered.