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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Chiropractic Would Make Hospitals Efficient

This was my article in the Citizen, March 22, 2011
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A few weeks ago I heard on the radio that emergency room use had risen in Massachusetts. Despite the good intentions of the 2006 “Romney-care” law, more people are relying on emergency departments.

The Massachusetts law requires virtually everyone to purchase some type of health insurance policy that meets minimum standards. How well these policies actually resolve the health care dilemma is another story.

The survey done by the consulting group, Market Decisions, showed from a sampling that 31% were turned away by a provider and 23% were not accepted as new patients.

As I looked for more studies, I found many articles debunking the myth that the uninsured or underinsured are filling up emergency rooms. Actually, folks with considerably good insurance are also driving up the numbers.

One reason ER use has climbed is out of convenience. Why make a phone call to your doctor’s office that makes you press through a menu of numbers? When you finally get a live person you are often told to come in next week or next month.

The ER department is open 24 hours a day and anyone can walk right in. At times the five or six hour wait is much easier than making an appointment. The big problem arises out of cost. The ER price tag is 2-5 times more than an office visit.

Hospitals also pick up more of the burden because computerized phone services announce that if you have an emergency “hang up and dial 911.” The alarming situation is people don’t know what really constitutes a true emergency and depend on the ER to alleviate their fears.

Even when doctors talk to their patients after hours, there is still a worry that a non-urgent situation can escalate to a crisis. Doctors know it is not ideal to make decisions when the communication is not face to face.

The statistics are quite telling and I believe the behavior is not going to change. People just want to feel secure and the immediate attention fills a psychological need for contact.

To help manage these problems in New Jersey, chiropractors are on call to show up at hospitals for severe musculoskeletal pain that does not quickly improve. Winchester Hospital in Massachusetts has its own chiropractic center.

Long waits are expected in a hospital emergency department, but having the chance to see a chiropractor can redirect the flow of non-urgent cases. Not only does a chiropractic adjustment reset pain feedback mechanisms, its calming affect is beneficial for the accompanying anxiety.
At my office in Auburn, I’ve been lucky enough to send people out for X-rays or MRIs and some return the same day with copies in hand. This is unique for our city and I enjoy this convenience because it helps me direct care quickly.

Having chiropractic included with current emergency protocols at a hospital adds even more efficiency. Look for these beneficial services here in the future. We’ll soon get our turn as hospital chiropractic makes its way to us.

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