As A Health Care Professional, Is Your Opinion Valued?

As some of you know, I’ve been suffering a case of acute sciatica in my left leg for a couple of weeks now.

And when you are a fit and healthy person like I am, sciatica is an extremely unfair and frustrating ailment.

I pride myself on my fitness.

I watch what I eat, I watch my weight, and I spend 90-100 minutes each day walking 10km each day to keep moving.

Because I believe that you have to use it or lose it.

So when I was “struck down” with this left side sciatica it literally bowled me over.

Because I just wanted to be instantly made better and get back to normal.

And one of the frustrating things about having sciatica is having to undergo the necessary scans and imaging and diagnostics and collecting all of the appropriate and necessary data so that an accurate diagnosis can be reached, and from that diagnosis, then the course of best treatment can be chosen.

Which led me to think about the comparisons between my back situation, and a dental diagnostic situation…

Would my medical doctor say this…

Once my diagnostics were in, would my doctor say these things to me?

“I’m going to give you some options, so you can make the decision on your course of treatment.”

“Here are your options…”

“You can do nothing, and maybe the pain you are experiencing will go away and the problem that is causing your pain will resolve itself?

“We can treat the pain with medication, so you don’t feel the pain.”

“The bulging disc that is causing your pain can sometimes shrink back to a manageable size and because of this shrinkage your pain will subside and disappear. During that time we can manage the pain with medication.” 

“Some of the medication can be addictive. Some of the medication can be hallucinatory. Long term use of some of the medication can be harmful to your kidneys and liver….”

“We can try a cortisone injection into your spine beside the bulging disc. This can give you short term relief and may aid the shrinkage of the bulging disc.”

“We can refer you to a neurosurgeon to see what het think and whether you need surgery on your disc or your vertebrae.”

That’s a lot of choices!

So, I’m thinking this:

Long term medication and do nothing is not a serious option.

And me being given the option to do nothing [without medication] is really not a realistic option at all.

The important thing here is that as a consumer, I need to be guided by my doctor’s recommendations, because I am not a doctor.

Because I am not a doctor, there really is no point in me having a part in the decision process as I have zero knowledge to contribute to the discussion about the best path for my ongoing treatment.

And it is the same in dentistry…

So many times I hear under-committed dentists saying that they have given their patients all the treatment options and the patient is going to make a decision, when in reality, the patient has no knowledge of what is really going on and what is best for them.

It’s the ultimate buck pass.

Allowing an uneducated patient [without a dental degree and without a history of experience of what works and what does not] to choose their own course of treatment is kind of like allowing the inmates to run the asylum..

As a patient once said to me in the dental office so many years ago…

He said:

“Hey Doc. What’s with all these options? You’re the guy in the white coat. Tell me what’s best and I’ll do that. That’s why I’m here.”

And that’s why the public go to doctors and dentists.

To receive best treatment.

Not to spin a chocolate wheel…

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