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December 1, 2018 by Dr. Kyle Varner in Direct Primary Care , Health issues

Some people view physicians as sort of gods, trusting them completely with their lives. They assume doctors can fix any and all problems, because of their years of training.

While I’m very flattered by this view, it’s not true.

Physicians may have a lot of knowledge, but we’re only human like you. We rely on information to make our decisions. So if we get the wrong information, things go downhill fast.

This is one of the reasons why— medical error has been cited as the fourth leading cause of death in the US.

The sad truth is, you can’t trust the medical industry to be perfectly efficient and organized. The different records kept by hospitals and doctors rarely meet and if you switch your doctor you’re likely to lose information along the way.

Even if they were efficient, they’re so busy with billing and obeying regulations they may miss the thing that’s most important – you.

You have to take responsibility for your safety and make sure everything is in order — there are three main things you can do to minimize this very lethal risk. Read on to find out what they are.

Write Down Your Medical History to Reduce Error

If there are important things in your medical history, you should write them down on a 8.5” x 11” piece of paper.

It needs to be simple and understandable, and something small enough you can hand it to a doctor with the relevant details.

For example, let’s say you had a pacemaker fitted three years ago. Write that down and include who put it in you, the serial number, and manufacturer of the pacemaker. And most important, why they placed it there.

For medications, mention what you take, who prescribes them, and why. The “why” is most important as it shows what conditions you have. This makes things like surgery a lot easier — because some drugs don’t mix well together, and you may be allergic to certain drugs.

Carry many copies of this document. Why? For the same reason you made it in the first place — information doesn’t travel well in the medical industry.

You don’t get to choose who treats you in a hospital. This means handing a copy to the triage nurse doesn’t mean it will make it to the ER doctor, to the hospital, or to the hospitalist.

If you give a copy of your medical history to everyone who treats you, you minimize the risk someone will have the wrong information, which means they may make errors.

Simplify Your Medical History to Avoid Error

What’s one of the worst habits in the US primary care system?

The habit of accumulating lots of meaningless diagnoses – it’s partly the fault of the patient and partly the fault of the physician.

People think physicians can cure every vague problem they have and so go to the doctor for every ache and pain. Meanwhile, doctors diagnose and prescribe drugs for those aches and pains, because that’s their job.

If you use a lot of different medical providers, they will prescribe you medication and diagnose all your problems at face value. This reduces the risk of them overlooking bad problems, which can be dangerous for them and the patient. But this can result in patients taking up to 30 medications, which may not all be necessary… and may be very dangerous!

All this makes your medical history very messy and complicated. Your doctor or nurse’s job is then far more difficult which increases the risk of a medical error.

Instead, I recommend that you instead have a good relationship with one doctor, and any specialists they recommend you have. In addition, you should return to them for any further complaints that you have. You should also always ask if the medications you’re taking are absolutely necessary.

This will help them to connect the dots between your medical issues, instead of treating each one on its own, which can be inefficient and even contradictory.

Switch to Direct Primary Care

So what’s the solution to the above?

One of the best recommendations I have for anyone in the US is to switch to direct primary care (DPC). This is a system where you pay a set amount per month and have unlimited access to your doctor.

DPC is a great solution because it allows you to spend more time with one doctor, so they can more accurately look at your conditions.

They are far more focused on holistic care instead of prescribing a drug for each complaint — meaning they can see broader patterns in your health.

They aren’t burdened by bad deals with insurance companies and so can see fewer patients without going bankrupt. Fewer patients mean more time with each, so they can actually make accurate diagnoses instead of pumping you full of drugs and sending you on your way. I urge you to try it if you want your medical history to be succinct, especially if you have a chronic condition.

Conclusion

Most medical errors are a result of a patient’s documents being unreadable, or doctors being too busy to properly look over them.

If you had a variety of car troubles, you wouldn’t send your vehicle to multiple random mechanics for each trouble, would you? Especially without providing them with a detailed account of what’s happened to your car in the past.

So with something as important as your health, why arbitrarily visit an unfamiliar doctor who’s unequipped with your medical history?

You can minimize the risk that doctors might miss something, by taking your health into your own hands. The first steps are to streamline your records and make sure everybody knows them — and switch to something like DPC.

Stop human errors from making your next hospital visit your last. Remember, it’s your responsibility to improve your life.

This information is intended to help readers be more informed about their health options when speaking with a professional, but it should not be used alone to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. Be sure to speak to a qualified doctor before taking any action to make sure that your choices reflect your actual health situation.

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