Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Health "Advice"

An article appears in Health Magazine advising its readers "when its OK to skip the Doc." But of course in doing so, nurse practitioners get slapped. You see, the article refers to convenient care clinics - a continually hot topic - and how their nurse practitioner staffed model makes it OK for them to treat minor boo-boos but aren't capable of treating more serious maladies.

Now in all fairness, most clinics aren't currently designed to treat conditions beyond episodic-type care and health screenings though there are reports that say this trend may be slowly changing to include other conditions. I just don't understand why the inference is always that the NPs staffing them are limited to treating just those conditions as well. I know plenty of instances where NPs referred patients to other providers based on subtle signs picked up during a convenient care visit which might've otherwise gone unnoticed. Further, patients in these settings were easily able to access a clinician and ask for advice and direction. I'd much rather have that be the case than a patient ignore their signs and symptoms due to lack of access.

NPs can be found in all settings: from hospitals to private practice to school-based clinics and beyond. The "advice" in these types of health publications minimize the role we play and cause confusion to the public.

I'm sure that clinicians in retail eye care, urgent care centers and the infamous doc-in-a-box delivery models faced the same type of issues. We realize today that the status quo is no longer acceptable and we must have delivery models adapt to where patients the patients are.

The most ironic thing about this article is a link to a related article entitled, "Danger at Your Doctor's Office" and uses an unfortunate missed diagnosis by a physician resulting in an advanced terminal cancer in one of their patients.

The reality is clinicians make mistakes. Critical lab results get missed and reports get misfiled. This is the case across all disciplines. Hopefully, this will be less common with a move towards more streamlined electronic records. However, publications should be giving its readers evidence-based information to promote empowerment and advocacy to patients such as getting a copy of your lab tests and progress notes for your own file. And keeping detailed records of signs and symptoms, etc. This is the type of advice that patients should be given.

1 comment:

Nurse Practitioners Save Lives said...

I always tell patients to get a copy of their own records because they never know when an office might close or have a disaster. I can't wait until we go to electronic records so that I will have a more coherent chart.