How many times have you, or someone you know, been told by a medical professional that there is nothing more that can be done to treat your condition? Or that you will have to give up (insert favorite sport/activity)? Conversely, have you ever been told that a medical procedure/surgery was necessary without having other options (including getting a second opinion) explained to you? Nowadays, these are common occurrences in our health care system. Patients are expected to comply without having the situation fully explained to them. Patients are expected to trust that their health care practitioner knows best. Unfortunately, what is “best” may not be in the best interest of the patient (may be best for the HMO, hospital, etc.).
What can be done to solve this problem? First, ask questions. Plenty of questions. Keep asking until you understand your situation thoroughly (or well enough to be satisfied). And if your health care professional refuses to answer your questions, find one that will. Many times, when some one tells you that “nothing more can be done”….what they really mean is that they are unaware of other options. No one knows all the answers, so don’t be disappointed if some one says “they don’t know”…a good professional knows their limits and will refer you to some one who can help you. Be wary though, of those who think they have all the answers. At COAST, we not only encourage you to ask questions, but we also keep an extensive file of current research/reference articles (we’d be happy to copy a relevant article for you). And, we won’t hesitate to refer you to some one else who can help you.
Another thing you can do to protect yourself is research. The more you know about your situation, the better you will be able to direct your health care. Querying the Internet (google.com is a great search site) or other health care professionals, is a great way to gather information. Be aware though, that many Internet health sites contain inaccurate information (often misrepresenting opinions as facts). Additionally, local hospital and university medical libraries usually allow public access to their resources. For sources of information regarding the care you receive (or didn’t receive), www.hmohelp.ca.gov (for HMO help and info), HICAP (info, counseling and advocacy for Medicare members) 1-800-434-0222, and for overall assistance (for seniors) www.seniornetworkservices.org (462-1433).
The best way to minimize problems is to utilize highly qualified health care professionals. In general, look for professionals who are licensed, Board Certified, have specialized training, frequently attend continuing educational courses, limit the scope of their practice (no one is good at everything), have a lot of experience treating your condition, are accessible and willing to answer your questions. It may seem like a lot of extra effort to find a professional who meets these standards, but isn’t your health worth it?
Visit our website to learn more about COAST Physical Therapy Services approach, philosophy and client expectations for the orthopedic rehabilitation programs we offer.