I wanted to write a blog on the current state of our healthcare system and remind people of how truly messed up it is. The scary part is that it is only going to get worse!
There a lot of things in the realm of people being injured that make me shake my head. I had one of these this week and it really got me thinking about how truly F’d up the system is. I had a patient that was referred into my office from another patient of mine.
This patient walked in the door looking like a twisted pretzel, with an obvious antalgic lean to the side.
They were in a lot of pain and even walking with a noticeable limp.
Needless to say this person was not in a good place. I knew as soon as they walked in the door, that they were a classic example of a lumbar disc herniation. It brought me back to my days in school where we talked about a “classic” disc presentation. Well this was certainly that. I felt pretty bad for this person and they were obviously in a massive amount of pain.
Now the messed up stuff began.
I took a thorough history on this patient and found out they had been to their primary care doctor 3 weeks earlier for the back pain. The doctor diagnosed it as a muscle spasm and injected it full of cortisone, sending the patient home with a script for pain medication. The pain continued to get worse; the doctor did 2 more cortisone shots and told the patient to get to the gym, “to help work out the spasm.”
At this point I am livid and completely ready to pick up the phone and rip this doctor a new one. Everything about the exam on the patient just confirmed a disc problem. I immediately told the patient what was going on and sent for an MRI. After some resistance back from the patient, more of what was just denial that their family doctor could be so wrong, he took the script and got the imaging done. Now I proceeded to call the doctor. I was put on hold for 20 minutes and told he would call me back. He did 4 hours later and left a message saying it’s the weekend now and he would try me back Monday.
I drove home that day in complete disbelief at the level of ignorance this doctor had shown. I had the weekend to cool down and not get as frustrated.
Monday morning I had a coaching session with my mentor Dr. Brady. He helped me to realize that honestly this wasn’t the doctors fault. The regular primary doctors deal with absurd amounts of bullshit everyday in their office. Ranging from diabetes, depression, sick kids, heart disease and whatever else. The last thing they want to deal with is back pain.
This forces them to follow a “standard of care” in that treatment. They give it pills; inject it, tell you to do some stretches. If that doesn’t work, then you get to “try” PT. That ends up being pretty shitty for the patient and they actually end up getting worse.
I finally did get a hold of the doctor, after I had the MRI in my hands that confirmed multiple levels of some nasty disc herniation.
He was surprisingly pleasant and thanked me for my call. I asked him why he didn’t order an MRI right away. He simply stated, standard of care wouldn’t let him and he had to follow the normal protocol of injections and pain pills before insurance would approve anything for at least 3 months.
Insurance companies and their desire to keep their shareholders happy can prove to be disastrous to the patient. It’s completely messed up that this complete disregard for the health of a customer happens every day. Your pain and body deserve so much better. Insurance companies are the damn devil in my opinion. What do these monsters care about?
- Collecting Premiums
- Cutting payments to providers
- Cutting care to patients
- Making more work to access benefits
- Making contact with them almost impossible
- Insurance companies routinely break the law by denying and administering the benefits that patients deserve.
This is why I don’t take insurance.
I refuse to participate in their complete disregard for the well-being of any of their customers. It is also a damn good reason why you are better to keep insurance out of the equation when trying to figure out what is going on with you.
So if you are injured please be careful when you think to go to your primary doctor as your first step, it could prove to be a disaster.
Thanks for reading.