It’s estimated that one in two U.S. adults has a musculoskeletal condition. Orthopedic patients often suffer from chronic pain that greatly diminishes their quality of life, so many American adults seek treatment to alleviate their conditions. Unfortunately, many of them end up going under the knife when their orthopedic problems could be properly managed in a primary care setting. It’s common for patients to undergo unnecessary tests, procedures, and invasive surgeries that do nothing to help their conditions.
This not only puts many U.S. patients in debt but also leads to $1 trillion in medical waste each year. These outcomes and numbers are unacceptable, especially considering that the U.S. medical system is fully prepared to help patients alleviate their pain and improve their conditions. The problem is that many Primary Care Providers feel they’re not given the time to properly diagnose patients and provide a personalized, conservative treatment plan.
At Primary Medical Care Center, we help our patients achieve health improvements through non-invasive means whenever possible. Are you looking for a second opinion? Contact us at (305) 751-1500 or use our contact form for more information!
Why Are Unnecessary Musculoskeletal Surgeries Common?
Unnecessary surgeries are the first line of action of many orthopedic doctors. But the outcomes are often less than desirable and can leave the patients feeling worse. So, why does this happen? A major reason is that doctors are indirectly incentivized to promote and perform surgeries.
Invasive treatments, especially major ones such as spinal surgery, can be very lucrative. Under the current fee-for-service model, medical procedures generate more income than preventive care. Furthermore, doctors are working on a tight schedule and burnout rates are on the rise. Trying to care for every patient pushes care providers to premature diagnoses and treatment decisions.
Even the most well-intended healthcare specialist might not have the time or energy to adequately test, diagnose, and educate every patient. However, proper diagnosis and open doctor-patient discussion about treatment options are very important. Patients that want to avoid unnecessary surgeries should always seek a second opinion.
The right specialist can help patients receive the best orthopedic treatment without unnecessary invasive interventions. There are three safeguards that each orthopedic professional should remember to ensure quality conservative treatment.
How Primary Care Providers Can Prevent Unnecessary Surgeries
Many orthopedic conditions can be improved without costly or risky surgeries. Despite this, unnecessary surgeries are a regular occurrence. This type of medical malpractice can easily be avoided by primary care practitioners who take the right preventive measures. A proactive provider should always take the following safeguards:
- They Should Take Extra Time to Thoroughly Assess Patients
A large number of musculoskeletal ailments can be effectively treated by a primary care provider. However, the U.S. is dealing with a shortage of such professionals. Currently, only 20% of all American doctors work as primary care providers. These services are in high demand, so PCPs are forced to take more patients than they can realistically handle.
They aren’t left much time to thoroughly assess and diagnose patients. But each extra minute spent with the patient leads to a more accurate diagnosis. Even by adding just 2-5 minutes to each medical visit, a PCP can build a more comprehensive picture of their patient’s needs. This is the first step to reducing unnecessary interventions and potentially fatal misdiagnoses.
- They Should Openly Collaborate with Other Specialists
Medicine is a multifaceted domain and human error is one of the biggest risks of improper treatment. PCPs are pressured to offer a prompt diagnosis and treatment plan, which can further increase the risk of erroneous surgeries. The importance of a team-based approach in medical care is ever more apparent.
Open communication and collaborations between PCPs and orthopedic specialists and surgeons are key to building an accurate and individualized treatment plan. By checking in with specialists, PCPs can increase diagnostic accuracy and properly assess the extent of a patient’s medical problems.
This will drive down improper or incomplete diagnoses, unnecessary interventions, and excessive medical costs. Not only that, but this can improve patients’ health outcomes, well-being, and trust in medical care providers.
- They Should Never Rush Treatment Without a Clear Diagnosis Plan
Unnecessary investigations and interventions are common, and the additional costs always fall on the patient. It might seem like a good idea on paper— the more tests the doctors can run, the more accurate the treatment. But PCPs can spare their patients a lot of unnecessary costs simply by asking more questions.
Care providers must work on differential diagnoses whenever possible. Different orthopedic ailments have many common symptoms. Arriving at a definitive, exhaustive diagnosis should be a top priority. This ensures quality patient care and the most favorable outcomes.