Why your medical care can fail

December 30, 2015


Does your visit to the doctor leave you feeling unheard, unwell, and frustrated?

Here are some tips on how to improve your next visit:

  • Prepare for the visit: When you come to meet a physician you should prepare to verbalize your reason for the visit. Walking into an appointment with no identification, no insurance card, and no medication list needlessly wastes your time and the office’s time. It is important to know what allergies you have, your current medications, and to be able to identify important medical events in your life. Not having any information about yourself , your pharmacy, your medications, and whether or not you need refills makes the visit incomplete. Most importantly if you need glasses and hearing aids please bring them.  Searching for glasses and not being able to read or  hear slow down the process and make the visit less than satisfactory. If you feel you will not remember what is being discussed come in with a family member you trust . Have an understanding of what is discussed before you leave the office.
  • Wanting to avoid co pay to the specialist: You wouldn’t have a carpenter rewire the lighting in your house. In today’s medicine, there are so many diseases  and  medical conditions that you do not want your primary care physician to be diagnosing and treating specific issues, such as rheumatological problems or pulmonary problems. Most insurances set copay higher for a specialist in order to discourage unnecessary referrals. It is important, however, to come to a mutual understanding with your doctor whether you need a referral or not. To avoid copays by asking your doctor to keep renewing the medications given by a specialist is not good practice of medicine. Remember saving money for your insurance and compromising your own care is not beneficial to you.
  • Hoping to have a medication for every symptom: Every “cold” you have does not need an antibiotic. Most acute respiratory infections are viral, and cannot be treated with antibiotics. Going to an urgent care to get an antibiotic is easily done, however the reimbursement for care through an urgent care or emergency room is dependent on how aggressively they treat. So if they give you expensive tests, a steroid injection, an antibiotic injection or narcotic, they get paid more. It has nothing to do with the care you actually need. So remember to keep in mind what you need. Some viral infections only need over the counter symptomatic care. Formulate a plan with your doctor on how long you should wait before you seek help again.
  • Having no respect for your physician and the office staff: Mistakes happen. Most offices should have zero tolerance for mistakes.  With most medical offices are getting 100 faxes, 100 portal messages , 50 to 100 requests for refills, and phone messages, something is bound to get delayed. Though most offices try their best to address all issues in a timely manner, getting upset and being disrespectful to staff and physicians is not the solution. Find an office you can work with.  Sometimes you may have to leave a message. Trying to call and not leaving a message then getting upset that no one is calling back is an unreasonable expectation. There should always be mutual respect and communication. Remember the 60 dollars you pay once in 6 months gives you 24/7 access to your physician – phones that are constantly manned, faxes that are on 24/7, patient portals that gives you 24/7 access to communication, text messages and more.  Asking for a refill after you completely run out of your medication and then getting upset when it is not done instantaneously is unreasonable to staff that are trying to help multiple people with multiple demands.
  • Thinking that your lifestyle has nothing to do with your medical issues:  It is always shocking to be diagnosed with a cancer. However a smoker getting lung cancer, an obese individual getting diabetes, a chronic alcoholic getting  breast cancer, and a sedentary person experiencing heart attacks, should come as no surprise. Seeing your physician once a year and then expecting them to be fully responsible for anything and everything that can happen to you is another unreasonable expectation we have of our current medical system. It is ultimately your responsibility to take control of your health and live a lifestyle that prevents disease and illness. Your doctor is simply there to give you the resources and advice needed to get there.
  • Seeing a physician once a year only for a “free visit” fully covered by insurance or an annual physical: This is probably the most alarming trend seen these days. Premiums are high and deductibles are unreasonable. The way people have chosen to address this is see their physician less but expect more and more out of a 15 or 20 minute visit. Remember your health and life is more important than anything else. Set aside money for your care each year, especially if you have issues that need resolution.

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