All we are hearing about these days are stories about ‘fake news’. It’s hard to determine what is the truth and what are lies. If you are like me, you find yourself doubting every news story that comes across your feed. The fact of the matter is that around the time O.J. Simpson hopped into a white Ford Bronco, mainstream media realized that people would believe whatever narrative fit their personal opinions. Facts are secondary and often we seek the answers that fit our beliefs.
The same holds true for what we experience in healthcare. Too often, we have patients who share stories of unnecessary surgeries that were recommended due to poor diagnostic examinations. I also read stories about therapists who should have never laid a single finger on someone without doing a proper evaluation. The fact is that not all structural abnormalities indicate a root cause. There are often times when there are no structural abnormalities, yet pain is unbearable to the patient, but all testing is negative.
It’s important to note here that this is not a slam on Doctors or any other professionals. We should all have thick enough skin to understand that it is up to all of us to ‘first, do no harm.’ We must all continue to review new research and adapt our practices accordingly.
A recent study posted on Pub Med reported on the variability in diagnostic error rates of 10 MRI centers performing lumbar spine MRI’s. The study concluded “marked variability in the reported interpretive findings and a high prevalence of interpretive errors in radiologists’ reports of an MRI examination of the lumbar spine performed on the same patient at 10 different MRI centers over a short time period. As a result, the authors conclude that where a patient obtains his or her MRI examination and which radiologist interprets the examination may have a direct impact on radiological diagnosis, subsequent choice of treatment, and clinical outcome.”
Can you imagine getting 10 different diagnoses from a single MRI? Who can you trust is right? As Bon Jovi’ said, this is “Bad Medicine”. There is an expression that I have heard that holds true; “You have whom you see.” In other words, depending on the professional (Dr.,PT, LMT, DC etc.) you will have whatever it is that they know how to treat. The bottom line is, when dealing with your personal health, it’s never impolite or rude to ask for a second or third opinion. This is your health. Sometimes the best answer you can get is “I don’t know.” You should always ask questions until you get answers that are based upon real facts and not opinions that conveniently fit the narrative of what you or the professional may think.