Monday, January 10, 2011
Philosophy: Is your health care provider really seeing the whole picture?
I love this image of a health care provider looking into a patient's problems. I can work with patients for a long time and realize I am only seeing such a small part of who they are and what ails them. Health care providers learn to look through the stuff that separates, but only as a patient opens up. I am afraid modern day medicine is retreating behind a thick wall to some degree. The beautiful art of medicine lies in the decoding process of all the pieces we are given. I have been recently treating a patient named Stephanie. Because of how serious her injury, I am really getting to know her. She has a nerve injury we are trying to sort out. She is getting many opinions on my recommendations. We talk, we email, we explore. I am so impressed at her strength, but understand her fear. Most health care providers want to see their patients face to face for every exchange, but it is not practical. The fragmented images are more fragmented on paper, or phone, or internet, but it is just a new learning curve. I have learned to love the ease of the email. But, since I am from San Francisco, I miss the hugs (probably why I got into medicine in the first place).
Today I had a great visit with a patient named Robin. Very complex spirit, but very centered, and easy to be with. I am sure I am seeing her through a peep hole, or a crack in the fence. If her health requires alot of investigation, I feel she will be fun to work with.
The world is crying out for health care providers to be primary care doctors (where the buck stops!!) Not triage doctors which hear a complaint, and always just swish you around to various specialists. Every specialty should have super specialists and general care specialists. I feel I do a decent job as the primary care podiatrist for my patient's foot and ankle problems. By being the foot primary care specialist, the buck stops with me!! Even though I am sending Stephanie to various specialists, I gladly take full responsibility to help her decide her options, to wade through the complexities. If you have a foot injury, you should have a primary care foot specialist who takes care of you--and that can be a physical therapist, podiatrist, orthopedist, chiropractor, etc. Someone who is committed to know what every one is saying, and to see you through the injury to the end. Someone who will be priveleged to see you at a deeper level.