How to Get The Best Medical Care in Ontario
Inside Secrets that will guarantee you the best medical care
Recently, a gentleman came into my nutrition store seeking health advice. He was experiencing water retention in his legs and ankles and he was very weak and tired. His cardiologist had put him on a new medication 3 weeks prior and felt that his symptoms were caused by an adverse reaction to the drug.
He came to me because he was worried that he had not improved since he discontinued the drug. Not only that, by seeing me, he would get the expertise of my 4 years studying pharmacology and 35 years of pharmacy practice. The fact that 3 weeks after the drug was out of his system he was still experiencing the same bad effects, told me that it was not the drug. Since his cardiologist had dismissed his symptoms and he obviously needed help, I advised him to go to the Emergency at Hamilton General Hospital which is basically the heart hospital for Hamilton. When you lose nearly all of your energy and your body starts accumulating fluid, it is usually a sign of a severe heart condition. I told him that when he arrives, he must emphasize the water retention and the difficulty in performing simple tasks like going up and down steps.
As it turned out, this man had experienced a heart attack and was kept in the hospital for 3 days while they stabilized his condition and got him on the right medications before he went home. He was a very quiet gentle person who did not want to bother anybody, especially question the authority of his doctor. But if he had just gone along with his cardiologist, it’s possible that he may have died prematurely.
Never let your physician dismiss your symptoms. Heart attack symptoms are very rarely similar to those dramatic movie scenes. Very often it is a constant feeling of nausea, cold sweats and severe weakness. There could be a pressure on your chest or it could even feel like it’s on your back. Hamilton General is the place to go and if you describe all your symptoms and add that you can barely move without getting out of breath (which may be an exaggeration) you will be taken care of immediately.
Lying to your doctor
Most physicians have a simple way of treating illness. If there is a drug for your symptoms, it will be prescribed for you and then they can be on to see the next patient. But what if you did not need that drug? What if you did not want to take the drug because it caused some bad side-effects?
The very best example I have seen is the effect of statins (drugs that lower cholesterol) causing muscle pain and muscle weakness. The physician tells the patient to keep taking it anyways or even prescribes a pill for the pain. In most cases, the patient’s cholesterol level is not even high and the person probably does not even need the drug. Walking 30 minutes a day will lower your cholesterol by 15 per cent. Maybe the patient wants to do this instead of taking the drug. If your physician insists that you take the drug, you may have to lie to him in order to keep him as your family physician.
You have no access to specialists such as orthopaedic doctors, cardiologists, neurologists, psychiatrists or even ophthalmologists without a referral from your family physician. If they feel you are a difficult patient and non-compliant, which means you do not do everything they order, they can dismiss you leaving you out in the cold looking for a new family physician. Even if you do not do everything your doctor orders, a little white lie or two may the best way to keep your family physician.
Standing up to your doctor
Very often a patient sees a physician on a regular basis and the problem will not resolve. Maybe it’s a stomach disorder for which the drug prescribed has no effect. The patient wants to see a gastroenterologist but the family physician wants to keep trying new drugs. Maybe the patient is having dizzy spells and losing balance and once again the patient wants to see a neurologist but the family physician wants to keep trying drugs to jeep the situation in hand. Family physicians can be very difficult for two reasons; a belief that they, and they alone can solve the problem and do not need outside help or simply a shortage of specialists for you to see. A good example of the second case is the illness known as depression. It is so hard to get an appointment with a psychiatrist, 80 per cent of all anti-depressant drugs are prescribed by family physicians who have zero training in psychiatry.
When we are ill and need to see our family physician, if you have a nice doctor, he or she will take care of you, give you the adequate prescription or whatever care you need and all is well. But suppose you are not satisfied with your physician’s approach to the problem and you go to a walk-in-clinic. Or you may simply have gone to the walk-in-clinic because you became ill on Saturday or Sunday and your doctor was not in the office. Your physician will know about it and very possibly may be very upset with you for going to the clinic or even worse going to Emergency.
This is because of the manner in which physicians are reimbursed by OHIP. If you are a patient who hardly sees your physician, they have the option of billing a fixed amount for one year’s care. If you have a number of conditions and constantly see your family physician, they will bill for each visit. But, let’s consider the first scenario. If your physician has billed for the year and you go to a walk-in-clinic or to Emergency, they will be clawed back a certain amount of money because they have already billed OHIP for your care. This makes your physician very upset.
Now that you know how the system works, if you are not satisfied that your physician will take you soon enough for a severe ear ache or respiratory infection, you must tell the receptionist that this is poor care and you will have to go to a walk-in-clinic. I guarantee you that that sentence will get you an immediate appointment.
You may have fallen or had a long time injury that will not heel. The X-ray shows nothing and you would like an ultra sound or an MRI or even both. In order to achieve this, your family physician must refer you to an orthopaedic doctor who can get these tests done in a matter of weeks. OHIP does not like family doctors prescribing ultra-sounds or MRI’s and the wait could be 6 to 9 months. If your family physician refuses, you tell him or her that you have no choice but to go to the fracture clinic at the hospital and get all the tests done there. Once again, your physician should give in because of the claw back situation.
Physicians are not Gods that can control your destiny. You have the ability to control your destiny and your future health care by taking a very pro-active role in your health care. Don’t let them boss you around. Use some of the information you have learned here today and use it to get the best possible medical outcome.