Lack of real patient outcome data on health treatments has been a real problem for me personally. I’m a runner and cyclist who over the years had numerous injuries with various treatments. Some of the treatments worked, and some created even more damage.
My worst experience was a surgery I was convinced to have after experiencing severe pain in the nerve near my knee. The pain was mostly evident after strenuous exercise, and increased steadily over a span of two years. The results of the surgery were that my surgery wound recovered very well but my condition deteriorated drastically. I was not able to drive with my right foot, or do any exercise other than swimming for over four years!
To my amazement, no one from the medical community cared to ask how my recovery was post surgery, and I certainly was not going to pay the doctor several hundred dollars to tell him he caused me extensive damage. Hence, no one in the medical community even knew (or cared to know) the results of my surgery, and probably marked this as a successful surgery, continuing to do more of the same. Mind you, the doctor that performed the surgery is one of the most successful and expensive surgeons in the area.
Several years later, I had severe shoulder pain that lasted many months and as a result I wasn’t able to lift my left arm. I consulted with two very successful orthopedics doctors who showed me through an MRI that my shoulder bones are touching. They both told me there is no way I would get better unless they performed a surgery.
This time I was a little more skeptical and asked for data on the actual results of this surgery. One of the physicians quoted me an over 97% success rate. I asked to see the source of his data and was referred to couple of studies. One study had 30 patients and another with couple of hundred of patients and a success rate of about 50%.
Instead of scheduling surgery I elected to try physical therapy. I saw four physical therapists over a period of several months, and was completely cured without surgery by the fourth one. Unfortunately, this information was not captured in any place that can benefit the medical or patient community.
This left me wondering how any medical professional could treat people without measuring the result of that treatment? How would you know what treatment worked and what treatment didn’t work? As a patient, how can you trust the medical community that does not keep exact measurement for the result of their treatments?
Consider the fact that there are over two-million knee, hip and back surgeries every year in the U.S. alone with no real patient outcome information.
Health Outcome is a place for all of us to find and share real-patient experience on different treatment options for common injuries.
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