Secrets Doctors Don’t Want You to Know from Secrets Doctors Don’t Want You to Know

Secrets Doctors Don’t Want You to Know

Do doctors really know everything about health care? It turns out that they are very often more confused than you are. People are often under the impression that caregivers and hospitals often treat them like insurance meat, but there is an explanation for the misconception. Doctors don’t want to harm their patients, but sometimes, despite their best intentions, mistakes and misunderstandings ensue.

Your doctors probably don’t communicate with each other

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Carry a list with all of your prescriptions to show your doctor, just in case. “Patients assume that when they see a doctor he or she knows everything [about]  the patient’s other visits to other doctors, but it’s impossible to have that kind of coordination,” Dr. Pawan Grover, a spine specialist, says. “Patients should not assume that their caregivers know all the meds they are on.”

Doctors are not more familiar with insurance than you

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“It’s just as confusing to us, even more sometimes,” Dr. Grover says. “This is because of the way it works. There is so much paperwork that has to be filled out in order to get a procedure done and so many rules for drugs and what they’ll pay,” he adds.  

Weekends are a bad time to be at a hospital

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It is no secret that hospitals are understaffed on weekends and holidays. “Yes, everybody wants out when Friday comes,” Dr. Grover says, “but they have people on back up call.” Hospitals don’t usually do anything elective on weekends anyway, he adds.

One of your doctors may not be in your network and you won’t know

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When the insurance company gives authorization for treatment, it often says “coverage does not guarantee payment.” This can lead to a big mess later, Dr. Grover says. It’s due to the fact that, even though your primary caregiver and the hospital you’re in are in your network, the anesthesiologist, for example, or someone else may not be. You’ll have to pay for their services out of pocket, he adds.

Misdiagnoses are common

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“Medicine is an art form,” Dr. Grover says. Mistakes are possible and they can happen very often. Take back pain, for example. “You get an MRI, which is a good start but it doesn’t tell where the pain is coming from.” The doctor can see something unusual and assume this is what’s causing the aches and he or she may order surgery, but then it turns out that’s not what the problem is, he adds. “Then you go back for a second surgery.” And the cycle may continue.

Doctors have less time to evaluate patients

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Doctors are under a lot of pressure to digitize everything, Dr. Grover says. “That’s why they are buried in the computer when you go to see them, which really doesn’t help improve patient care.” Too much documentation means less time to evaluate each patient, he adds.

Department chairmen are not the best doctors

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They often have additional administrative work to do, which means they don’t see as many patients as before. A lot of doctors who become administrators have to take courses for that, Dr. Grover says, but they do spend a lot of their time dealing with paperwork and red tape.

Teaching hospitals can be better

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Teaching hospitals are where medical students are. They tend to ask a lot of questions and are constantly reading up on the latest research in their fields. “This can help a patient as he or she gets different perspectives and more people seem to be looking at their case,” Dr. Grover says. “However, the downside is that oftentimes the residents are also the ones doing the procedures.”

Don’t go to your first visit angry

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“Patients with bad experience with another doctor sometimes come in and start the visit off with anger saying who they’ll sue and why,” Dr. Grover says. “Doctors don’t want to treat these kinds of people.” Don’t mention the problem on your first visit because you will scare the doctor away, he adds.

Changes in payment discourage doctors from treating you

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New changes in the way Medicare pays doctors may cause a new healthcare crisis, Dr. Pawan wrote in an op-ed. Doctors will get paid depending on how well patients are doing. “But suppose a doctor is caring for a diabetes patient who doesn’t listen or follow instructions; then the doctor gets penalized,” Dr. Grover says. “What will happen as a result is doctors will stop taking very sick patients because not only will they not get paid but they will be penalized,” Dr. Grover adds.

Hospitals may offer different rate for same procedures

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Hospitals are obliged to sometimes take people without insurance. They can’t turn away car accident victims, for example. What they end up doing is charge people with insurance more and they are doing it to stay afloat, Dr. Grover says. It’s not fair to the patient, considering the high copays and deductibles, but hospitals have to balance their sheets somehow, he adds.

Doctors are under pressure to see more patients

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“Nowadays most doctors are struggling because reimbursement from insurance is so low,” Dr. Grover says. “They have to see more patients to stay afloat.” They often give up their private practices and work for a hospital, he adds. “They are now employee of the hospital and have to abide by its rules.” When you add that doctors have even less time to actually treat sick people because of the pressure to write and digitize everything, the visits seem very rushed. 

Doctors don’t realize you pick up their body language

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“Patients pick up clues,” Dr. Grover says. But the problem is that they often misread these clues, he adds. Doctors are people, too; they may have had a bad day and say something in a way that was misconstrued by the patient. Misunderstandings and exaggerations easily follow.

Doctors tell white lies

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Some doctors never do that; they are always 100 percent straight with their patients, Dr. Grover says. “But some patients rely on their doctors for hope, if they don’t receive it from anywhere else.” It could be very disheartening; there is a mental component to patients’ outcomes, he adds. Stress causes higher levels of cortisol, which weakens the immune system, Dr. Grover says.

Don’t overcount on medicine

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Medication can only do so much, Dr. Grover says. “Patients need to get more involved in their care and not be so dependent on their doctors.” It’s imperative to eat well, exercise, not smoke and lead a healthy lifestyle to minimize the chances of ever having to deal with hospitals, doctors and insurance, he adds.

Your doctor may not be reading your X-Ray

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Outsourcing radiology is not uncommon, especially if you are admitted to a small hospital over the weekend or Friday night. The chances of having a radiologist on site to interpret the scans are not big. Such hospitals usually have a contract with an outside company to read them and send back the findings. This process is called teleradiology.