Avoiding the abyss
Depending on your health history and your experience with medical providers, you’ve probably noticed how busy health professionals tend to be, both in treating patients and with the back-office hoopla of chart notes, insurance, and other things. What you’ve probably also noticed is that a lot of times you leave a doctor’s office without much of an answer about what is going with you medically. Whether it be the “let’s see what this prescription does and check back in 6 weeks” or “let’s get this ‘XYZ’ test done and go from there” or very frequently “’let’s refer you to a specialist.” Plenty of times one of these are the most appropriate direction and lead to a solution or resolution, however, it creates an inevitable wait time that can vary considerably depending on the circumstances. On a regular basis, we have patients who come to our office desperate for some sort of relief because they’ve just been passed around to different medical providers, waiting for weeks between appointments. During this wait, they are still dealing with their pain without any real sense of what the actual problem is; they may also be dealing with any physical limitations that have been caused by their pain.
What is the medical abyss?
The “medical abyss” is a term that has come from a very regular and unfortunate occurrence that patients experience when they have an injury that isn’t very cut-and-dry. We frequently see patients who have some sort of orthopedic-type injury, perhaps in the shoulder, knee, hip or back. These patients started out going to their primary care provider or an orthopedist and what follows is a stream of prescriptions, referrals, waiting on referrals, testing, waiting on test results, follow ups, “let’s check back in 3 to 6 weeks”, and sometimes even surgical procedures. All the while, you still don’t have a good idea of what the problem is or what the appropriate treatment regimen is to fix your problem. This can happen with other medical issues; however, it seems to happen quite frequently when it comes to orthopedic and overuse injuries, so we come across this “medical abyss” phenomenon on a regular basis.
Are you stuck in the abyss?
Patients who come to our office after being stuck in the “medical abyss” are typically quite frustrated, not only at the pain they’ve been dealing with, but also at the time and energy (and money!) that they’ve spent spinning their wheels in the “abyss” without making any progress on diagnosis or treatment of their condition. This frustration often leads patients to become discouraged or depressed, especially if their injury has limited their ability to enjoy a hobby or favorite recreational activity.
Now, we can help most problems that walk through our doors, however, there are times when we need to order imaging or refer on to an orthopedist or another medical provider because a patient is not getting better with our treatment. But, we do our best to walk through the process with a patient to avoid them falling into the medical abyss and hearing from them six months later that they are still in pain and have had no major progress due to the typical circumstances listed above.
Getting out of the abyss!
Medical providers want to help people, but the system has become so convoluted that way too many patients are falling into a proverbial “abyss”; is it always accompanied by a lack of communication, direction, and clarity and an excessive amount of wasted time. At KC North Spine & Joint Center, we are small and uncomplicated, therefore, we can walk along with you in the resolution of your pain or in the search for answers to your pain. We are available to our patients and we want to know that you are finding resolution or at least headed in the right direction if your problem requires you to seek help elsewhere.
Yours in health,
Dr. Pete Casey