Dear Medical Professionals,
I am pretty sure none of you read my blog. Why would you? It’s really written to patients suffering from SI joint pain. Today I am asking you to read it. If your a practitioner, please share this. It’s things patients really really wish you understood. You see, I spend a lot of my volunteer time online talking with patients, listening to their stories, and helping them to find help. In order to do that, one of the main things I need to do is educate them. It’s amazing to me how many of your patients have no idea what you did for them or to them in your appointments.
Educate for the love of God. Even as a PTA student it was drilled into me to explain to the patient what I am going to do, how it works, and why I am doing it and get their permission AFTER I have explained that. WHY is is so many people come to the online forums with no understanding of the injection they just had into their SI joint, or what RFA is and how long it should take to feel the effects, or that the provocation tests the PT is using during the eval are gonna HURT…. WHY are you not telling your patients what you are doing and why?!!!???!!!
You know what you end up with when you don’t? Confused and pissed off patients! Then someone like me comes along and tries to explain why they should see you again… because you probably are quiet smart and DO actually understand the problem… but you forgot you were treating a PERSON. And in the case of the people I work with…. a person with persistent pain, they NEED explanation and understanding, they NEED the human element. You want your practice to grow? Share the compassion and empathy that you started your career with; WITH your patients. No, not all of them want to hear how everything works, but you still need to deal with that little thing called informed consent.
Practice simplifying your explanation of your treatment plans. There are ways to explain what you would like to do without overwhelming your patient.
Explain why you want tests order, what are you looking for in that x-ray or MRI…. why do I need a CT scan with contrast vs one with out. And hey, when your patient suggests a test you haven’t heard of like say…. and EMG with FAIR testing for the piriformis, why not look into it before you tell them no, or ask THEM why they think it’s important.
Tell them when things are going to hurt… and stop using the nice medical terms we all use…. pressure, discomfort…. how about that OR it may hurt, but we are doing this to figure out what’s wrong with you. Pressure and discomfort are words that were used to describe my Si joint injection… I described it as a horrific experience I wish I could forget. Pressure and discomfort didn’t start to describe what I felt. Those things were benign… what I felt was BAD! How about the provocation tests used to rule SI pain in, they are used to PROVOKE pain – I understand we don’t want to muddy waters with nocebic language. But what about fair warning that these tests may reproduce your familiar pain, or they may not. If they do, assure the person that won’t happen every time they see you!
Be curious, that’s fine, just prepare them ok! If you don’t explain it they have no idea of the following:
1. You’re trying to figure out what is wrong.
2. You KNOW and are aware it should hurt if this is the problem.
3. You look like an idiot that has no idea what he or she is doing and just made the person worse than when they came in.
I KNOW your not an idiot and you do know what’s going on, but your patient who is now complaining on the internet doesn’t.
Thanks for listening,
I look forward to seeing patients understanding more of what you are doing for them.