Well, not fighting, but they are having major disagreements. And the disagreement is about which direction to take in my plan of care.
So where does that leave me?
As you already know if you know me, I took a nasty spill really injured my knee. Now, it has led to some major complications with my knee, back and leg.
Right now, I have two orthopedic surgeons, a physical therapist and a rehabilitation doctor monitoring my condition. Hectic doesn’t begin to describe it. Meanwhile, all of these providers have an opinion about what is going on with me, as well as my plan of treatment.
One orthopedic surgeon has no idea of how to proceed of why I continue to have pain after surgery. The other orthopedic surgeon (thank goodness for second opinions!) says that I may have damage that no one has found or discussed with me before. The rehabilitation doctor says that he is about my hip, back and thigh. And the physical therapist has thrown her hand up concerning the other three providers. She is the one that sees me several times per week, so she feels her opinion is one the doctors should consider.
I feel caught in the middle – literally. This becomes a dilemma for me, as it would for any patient.
Now, all of these healthcare providers are smart. I don’t take anything away from them. But I am smart to, however I am at a loss as to which way to go.
Side note: I am a healthcare advocate, and I still have a difficult time with navigating healthcare at times, even though I know my way around very well. What about the people that don’t know their way around? What must they be feeling?
Why do healthcare providers disagree?
Healthcare providers are people too. Some know more and have more experience than others. Some are aggressive with treatment, while others take a more laid-back approach. Differences in a healthcare provider’s knowledge experience and practice methods vary widely. That is why you must find a provider that closely mirrors how you would like to handle treatment for your conditions. Make sure that the provider you choose listens and has a complete background on you. Healthcare providers, like all people, are different which leads to different approaches to care.
But what to do when your healthcare providers disagree?
A lot of our decision will be based on our own common sense, beliefs and values. As humans, we naturally do what makes sense to us and what is comfortable. So in functioning as a human, we must remember a few things in trying to sort out healthcare opinions:
• We should voice our concerns to each provider, and ask why they formed the opinion that they did. If you understand their reasoning for choosing the opinion they chose, it makes it easier to evaluate what they are telling you.
• Ask each provider to evaluate the other providers differing opinions. Have each provider write down their thoughts of the others’ opinions and show it to all that are concerned. Ask the other providers their thoughts about what was written, and if they still stand by what they first told you.
• Educate yourself about your conditions and treatment options so you can ask informed questions. This is your health, so it is your responsibility to make sure you have done your homework about it.
• Is it all about the Benjamins? Doctors get paid for the services they perform. Surgeries are almost always thousands of dollars in a doctor’s pocket. Do you need the services or do they need the cash?
• Trust your gut. After hearing everything your providers are saying, what is your gut telling you? You were ultimately in charge of your healthcare, as well as the expert on your personal health and circumstances. Use your common sense and make a choice, but don’t be pressured to do so immediately. Make the decision that reflects your values and beliefs.
You will be the one who has to make the choices about your course of treatment, no matter how many differing opinions you get. You will be the one financially responsible, and you will be the one to indoor any consequences that may arise as a result of your choice. Make sure it’s a good one.
Be a smart patient – do your homework, ask questions and question the answers. Make sure your decisions are reasonable (and covered by your insurance!). You can squash the fighting and get your best care.