Saturday, December 3, 2016

No, Your Doctor May Not Know

After writing this post, I came across this article in The Washington Post, which is a physician's experience dealing with "one size fits all medicine."

In relating her experience with the need for a second replacement of her knee, a friend noted how one of her colleagues had sent her a lengthy e-mail before her first replacement explaining what she needed to look for in an orthopedist. “They should offer different types and options to knee replacement as well as a wide variety of sizes for the implants.”   In reading the e-mail her thought was, “but surely my doctor must know this.”  “I didn’t say anything and I paid the price,” she said more than once.

As it turned out,  first orthopedist had a “one size fits all” approach compared to the second surgeon who offered 38 sizes of implants. The latter provided a much better fit and consequently a much better outcome.

Another friend is in need of a particular type of eye surgery where there are two approaches: one that requires the person to lay face down for a day to weeks following the surgery, and has a high probability that cataract surgery will be needed, while the second requires no lying face down and makes cataracts very unlikely. There are a lot of variables certainly to consider, but unless she asks questions she’ll end up spending a lot more time in uncomfortable positions with more surgery and a longer recovery time.

Whether it’s a surgery, treatment, medications or something else, don’t assume you medical provider is up on all aspects of care and treatment. Health care is a very changing field and it’s easy to miss something particularly if your provider has a very busy practice.  You can help yourself and your provider by:

• Learning about your condition from reputable sources: Sites like Mayo Clinic’s Diseases and Conditions  and Medline Plus  are  good places to start. Look for current information and sites that end in .org, .edu, or .gov. Be wary of drug manufacturers and the commercial sites that end in .com. Be on the look out for quick and easy cures, which can be scams. If it Sounds to Good to be True:Scams, Frauds, and Quacks is a good resource to check to determine if it might be a scam.

• Be an e-patient:  You can learn a great deal from others with your condition by participating in support groups, particularly if you share data.

• Bring information you have questions about to provider’s attention and don’t assume that they know everything.

Keep in mind that your relationship with your medical provider is a partnership where you are ultimately responsible for the choices you make regarding your care. 

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