It is my daily privilege to speak with families who call our office looking for help when they aren’t sure where else to turn.
And in the thousands of conversations we have had with Virginians over the last 20 years, we hear recurring themes, and myths about modern healthcare. Beliefs that patients hold to be true regarding their physicians and our medical system. They call us when the myths have been revealed, and the truth – often the harsh truth, realized.
The myths Americans most often believe about modern healthcare, is as follows:
- There are some surgeries that are risk free
- All doctors are equally trained / capable
- Doctors have time to review your chart thoroughly before your appointment (or your messages sent in MyChart)
- Pregnancy is not complicated
- Modern healthcare has not changed because of COVID
The problem with a myth, is that in holding a belief, we shape our actions a certain way.
SURGERY IS RISK FREE
If I believe this surgery to be simple and risk free, I may not research the surgeon. I may not ask who will be providing the anesthesia. I may not focus on the possible complications, or significant and known risks of the procedure. I may think the surgery can answer all of my problems. And yet, we have seen time and time again – the simplest of surgery, end with devastating results.
Example – Carpal Tunnel Release = lead to nerve damage = lead to complex regional pain syndrome = loss of job (Not risk free)
Example – In office liposuction = lead to infection = lead to hospitalization and ventilation and near death
Example – in office pain injection = lead to significant infection = lead to multiple surgeries = loss of job
ALL DOCTORS ARE EQUALLY TRAINED / CAPABLE
Do you know the difference between an MD, DO, NP and PA? You should. An MD has the longest and most rigorous training. A doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) likely didn’t get into medical school. A nurse practitioner is a highly trained nurse, who didn’t attend medical school. A physician assistant is providing care under the doctor’s license and is supposed to have every major decision checked by a doctor. Assuming they have the same level of training and skill – is harmful. If you know someone has done this procedure 10000 times, do you feel more confident than knowing this is their first time? I would.
DOCTORS HAVE TIME TO REVIEW YOUR CHART
A friend recently told me the expected patient load for some primary care physicians is over 3000 patients. Yes, you read that correctly. 3000. Imagine how much can you retain and remember about 3000 complex individuals. Not a name. Not a health history. Likely, not even the fact they have been there before. And with most primary care physicians expected to see 20 patients a day – that leaves very little time for chart review, and less time for history.
Example – assuming your doctor knew you had a surgery 1 year ago in the same location as your pain – and when they don’t know or have time to verify, they think the pain is relate to something other than surgical infection site.
I sum, if you hold one of the above beliefs – it means you as the patient have very little role in your own care. No duty to communicate clearly. No duty to research your options. No obligation to participate in your own care. But upon seeing the above as myth – falsely held beliefs, you may realize you have work to do yourself. Work, that in the long run – will protect you, your health.
stay tuned for part II….