Patients are complicated; people in general are complicated. Patients come into the office all the time with numerous and unique problems. Are you doing them a disservice by trying to treat everything or should you stick to what you are good at and let other professionals deal with the rest? Are you as a chiropractor afraid of a second opinion, you shouldn’t be.
A chronic neck patient walks into the office, right shoulder and arm pain. Most of the time, before jumping to an MRI to determine if a herniated disc is present, we may treat the patient a few times in order to try to reduce or limit the symptoms as is noted in most respected guidelines. If symptoms are then not reduced, I will normally refer the patient to their primary care provider because I feel that if an MRI is needed then their primary care provider should be involved in the decision making process.
Does it scare you that you will lose a patient if you send them to another provider? It really shouldn’t, if the patient finds value in your care or your opinion, they will be back. I think a lot of chiropractors see a patient that walks out the door as a missed opportunity, but you may not have been able to help the patient in the first place. The fact that a lot of doctors cannot swallow their pride enough to help the patient as opposed to their bottom line is a big problem.
Headache patient walks in, we treat her three times, in fact the benefits from care were beyond wonderful but after about a week the symptoms never completely went away. She sought care from her primary care and ended up having an MRI, she has multiple health concerns that I was not even going to begin to tackle. Other providers were going to be able to take better care of the patient in her current health situation. Did I do wrong by this patient, absolutely not; she is now by biggest fan for being truthful and not trying to convince her for a prolonged treatment plan. She will be better off with the course of care that she is currently on. Will she return in the future, I hope so, but I can rest well at night knowing that the ultimate problem is being addressed.
The longer I go into practice; I’m starting to find out that I am efficient at treating certain types of conditions. If those conditions walk in the door, the comfort level is high. Another specific condition walks in; I may fold my hand a little faster than I would because I know that other professionals are better at treating things like this. I’m trying to be a part of the healthcare picture, not the whole picture.
Medications, surgeries and other providers are all involved in cases. As soon as chiropractors can figure out that we are not out there to cure everything or that everyone that walks through the door is going to benefit from chiropractic care then the patient will benefit the most.
I will concede that chiropractors are looked at the outcast of the healthcare community, but if we as a profession can start to help the people that we are able to help in an efficient manner and to direct patients to where they will get the best care and outcomes the profession as a whole will get a much better reputation over time.
So if you fear second opinions or other healthcare professionals, you need to look yourself in the eye and determine if you are doing what’s in the best interest of the patient? Or are you doing this for your bottom-line.
Don’t fear second opinions, in fact embrace them.