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Traveling Out Of The Country For Surgery? 5 Things To Ask Your Surgeon

5 Things You Should Know or Ask Your Surgeon

Will you be traveling out of the country for surgery?  Have you ever asked a doctor a question and thought to yourself, he probably thinks I’m an idiot? Many people do but you’d be surprised to know that would not be the case. No question you ask a doctor is a ‘dumb’ one.  In fact, if you asked them that, they’d probably tell you many people ask the same kind of questions.

When you are scheduled for a surgery, there are certainly no questions that shouldn’t be answered to your comfort level. Some of those questions might actually be about the doctor. Most people are going to want to know who it is behind the mask. Here are some questions to consider or research prior to agreeing to travel out of the country for your surgery.

  1. Is the doctor up on his/her credentials?

    All doctors, in the US and Canada, are required to take continuing education courses to keep their license valid. Other countries may have different standards.  Be sure you know what those standards are and if they have the appropriate credentials.

  2. What is the surgeon’s training or specialty in?

    You do not want someone trained as a Pulmonologist or General Surgeon doing an Orthopedic surgery. This is more common than you would imagine, especially for plastic surgery or in other foreign countries. The outcome will be more favorable when you have your surgery done with a licensed and trained specialist that is within the specialty of the surgery you are having.

  3. How many surgeries has this doctor done similar to mine?

    That old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ or ‘proficiency in numbers’ could apply here. The more surgeries a doctor does, the better skilled they become just like an athlete who trains every day.

  4. Have there been any files or judgements against the surgeon?

    This is something to check in to for your safety. If there has been a judgement, don’t discount the surgeon right away. Ask them about the case.   Some judgements are common such as an Orthopedic surgeon because the outcomes are not always as the patient expected. Someone’s expectations and emotions can sometimes get in the way of reality and the first gut instinct is to blame the doctor. (The next point will give you more details to this) Doctors who have been found negligent are the ones to be concerned with.  In that case, you may want to be more diligent in your decision to have them operate on you.

  5. Ask your surgeon what the their success rate outcome is for the procedure you are having done.  Asking a doctor about their success rate for outcomes is a good indicator of the success you may experience. In higher risk surgeries such as abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, cancer surgery, carotid endarectomy or heart valve or bypass surgery it is also important to know that particular doctor’s complication rates. There are many experimental procedures they may not have enough data on to know or a particular surgery such as a spinal fusion that may only have a 70% success rate.  Knowing this information and understanding it up front will help you set your expectations accurately and also give you more validation on whether or not you want to put yourself through the surgery.

Conclusion

Not every patient is the same and there are many factors doctors have to weigh such as your age, other risk factors or unknown obstacles they may encounter once they get in to do the actual surgery to determine what is best for you. Don’t ever assume, always ask. Make sure your interpretation of what the doctor is telling you makes sense so you are both on the same page and there are no surprises or misunderstandings.

Being well informed about your surgeon will give you the confidence you need. Go to your appointment prepared with a list of questions and make sure that all of them are answered to your satisfaction. Health Vantis will already have asked these questions if you utilize us. It is our job to make sure we have paired you with not only the appropriate doctor but also the best.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

5 Things That Will Improve By Considering Medical Travel

5 Things That Will Improve By Considering Medical Travel

We live in an instant gratification world. We have access to just about anything we want at the tip of our fingers. Waiting for certain medical care is not something we have much control over, but do we?  We may not have the ability to snap our fingers and have a surgery date appear on the surgeons schedule but we can utilize our resources to research other options such as medical travel.

The decision to travel for medical reasons is a big  one to make, and there are many reasons one might entertain the though but you have to weigh the pros and cons. In this blog we will explore the ‘pros’ by making the decision to.

  1. Excluded or specialty procedures currently unavailable in Canada

    Canada is a very progressive country with regards to medical treatments and care, however, there are many procedures and treatments unavailable. Cancer is a great example  of one of those because of the uniqueness it presents in every individual. Entertaining a second opinion can always be helpful to explore other options or even to confirm the treatment plan you were given concurs. You will have more certainty in your treatment plan and/or diagnosis. Oncologist.

  2. Addressing your disease or illness sooner thus preventing it from progressing further

    The longer you have an ailment that is being untreated, the higher chance you have to make things worse. For example, a knee replacement. We obviously all utilize our legs to walk and the knees bear all of our weight. They are the main hinge between the ground and the rest of your body that allow you to get around. Waiting too long for your surgery can be counterproductive. Your function going into surgery dictates how you will function afterward. The longer you wait, the more muscle tone you lose which will make your recovery much longer and harder. Something spotted early may only require a minor procedure. Delaying that could cause, in the case of a knee, destruction to the knee joint to where it is so severe that a total knee replacement is now needed.

  3. Pain level management can be kept to a minimum

    Pain is the main indicator that something is wrong. Living with severe pain may produce a chain reaction. You may not be able to develop the coping skills required.  This may cause you to become unproductive, unable to exercise or possibly put you into a depression. Although doctors are getting more cautious with giving opioids out for pain control, they still do. This is considered a risk. Being on them in the short term may be appropriate but being on them long-term will have more serious consequences such as addiction. Also, when you take an opioid it masks the pain. This could result in you to pushing yourself more than you should which can create or complicate your problem further.

  4. Being able to exercise or do the things you love to do again

    Most likely, if you need to have a surgery, you are going to have limitations. Those may prevent you from doing the things you love to do such as playing with your children or grandchildren, participating in a sport or hobbies. This can be especially difficult when it limits you from something you are passionate about such as cycling or running. Many people thrive on being active and when they can’t, the consequences can be many.

  5. Back to work sooner

    Your ailment might be severe enough that you have to go on long or short term disability because you can no longer preform your duties. This can put a financial strain on you. If you have to be off work for 4-6 months while waiting for your surgery or diagnostic test, how much income are you losing? If the income lost due to waiting is greater than the cost to have it done privately, then further consideration might be worthwhile.

Being the healthiest person you can be will only benefit you physically, mentally and emotionally. Weighing all of the pros and cons may give you the insight to make an  informed decision on what it is you need to maintain that healthy lifestyle.

If you would like to explore other options, contact us as that is what we do. We’ve already done the research for you to speed things along that much quicker.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

7 Things to Do Before Your Private Total Knee Replacement Surgery

 

7 Things To Do Before Your Private Total Knee Replacement

Planning early and thinking ahead about how a private total knee replacement will affect your life and stress level will help you manage the recovery.  We offer 7 tips for you to consider.

Exercise your leg muscles and try to get in better shape physically – start about 2 to 3 months prior to surgery

If you are considered a good candidate for a private knee replacement by your orthopedic surgeon, he or she may advise an exercise program before surgery. Due to pain and limited mobility, the strength of your muscles declines. Your successful recovery depends on your general health and the strength of your muscles pre-op. Although the reason you probably stopped using those muscles was due to pain, you can schedule a visit with a physiotherapist to talk about how to carry out an exercise plan.

Quit smoking.

It is not good for your general health period but will also hinder the recovery, not to mention an increased risk of heart attack, DVT or stroke.  Smoking decreases your blood flow.  This can slow the healing process making you more vulnerable to infection and circulatory problems.*Note that some surgeons require you to demonstrate a negative urine test before your surgery is scheduled.

Hold off in having another cortisone injection.

Research has shown that there is an increased risk of infection when someone recently had a cortisone injection and then proceeds for their surgery.  Most doctors like to wait at least 3 months to do the surgery for this reason, however, we have known some that will proceed after 1 month.  Talk to your doctor prior to having an injection if you are considering surgery.

Talk to your doctor about what is required prior to your surgery such as blood tests or what medications you can continue taking.

Before the doctor schedules your surgery date you will likely need pre-operative tests such as an EKG or current blood work.  These are essential so the anesnthesiologist can clear you as being fit for surgery.  Most blood tests and EKG’s are valid to use within a 3 month period.  If you are having your surgery privately, these can be ordered through your GP and done locally.

Your doctor will also have a conversation with you about your current medications and whether you can continue taking them, for example, blood thinners. An appointment with an anesthesiologist will be set up to discuss all of this prior to your surgery.  Some doctors have you start certain medications such as an antibiotic or pain management prior to your surgery as well.

Prepare your home for recovery

If you live by yourself ask a friend or a relative to stay with you or stay at their place for a week after you come back from the hospital. You will not be able to drive for about 6 weeks.  You will need a responsible adult to drive you home and stay with you for 24-48 hours after your surgery.  Hiring an Uber driver or taxi is not allowed and you will not be released otherwise, especially if you traveling for your surgery.  A travel companion is required.

It is preferred to stay on one level without having to climb stairs.  Clear out your hallways so that you can move around freely.  Get some things to make yourself more comfortable: raised toilet seat, stable shower bench or chair for bathing, long-handled sponge or shower hose, a grabber to reach for things, slip on shoes, bed rails if needed, walker/crutches/cane. Some of these can be rented at no charge from your local Red Cross. Make sure you book early, as availability may differ.  Ensure you have a sufficient amount of frozen meals or have someone prepare your meals for the first week after the procedure.

Rent an ice cooling device such as Ossur Cold Rush or Kodiak Cold Therapy for a month if you are able to afford one.

Have cold packs and ice packs in the freezer if you are not able to get the cooling device. Cooling your knee after the operation will help you manage the pain and increase your comfort level post-surgery.  This encourages you to move around and speed up the recovery.

You will be given a detailed list of the day before” and the morning of” instructions to follow.  Ensure you follow them precisely.

You will be given a set of instructions to prepare you for the day before surgery and the morning of.  It is essential you follow these instructions as directed to ensure a safe surgery and to make sure you’ve brought with you necessary items if traveling for surgery.

If you get sick with the flu, cold or fever shortly before, be prepared to reschedule the surgery until you recover.

Arrange for physiotherapy before you have the surgery and follow through with it after.

You will probably have a couple of sessions with physiotherapist while you are still in the hospital. To ensure your successful recovery, you have to do exercises to strengthen your new knee.  Call around to find a physiotherapist who specializes in therapy after joint replacement. Your provincial health care plan or supplemental insurance may cover some of the cost.

You may be put on a blood thinner to prevent blood clotting post-surgery. If you are traveling for a private knee replacement, keep in mind the possibility of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) increases dramatically if your flight is over 4 hours. Your doctor may also ask you to wear TED (Thrombo-Embolic Deterrent).

Health Vantis offers private total knee replacements at facilities that are 4 hours or less away from your home to ensure that you are not taking on more risks. We can also take care of finding and arranging the physiotherapy after your surgery. That is part of our white glove service to all of our clients.

*This information is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

 

 

What Creates Canadian Wait Lists?

What Creates Canadian Wait Lists?  We are at the conclusion of our blogs this month for the 2017 wait times.  But what actually creates these wait lists and wait times?

Reasons That Might Suggest Why

There is a plethora of reasons why they occur across the country but here are a few possibilities that might support reasons as to why.

  1.   All physicians will see patients in the manner they see fit.  It can be based on their patient case loads, comparison to their other patients or simply triaged.  As much as we don’t want to believe it, some physicians will help fellow colleagues or friends/family out ahead of their actual patients.
  2. Lack of resources in a given province.  When this happens, the patient may be referred to another province for treatment.  If this happens, you become part of their wait list
  3. Rationing.  By this, we mean that there may be a doctor available to do another surgery and OR time available, however, each province sets the amount of patients seen or surgeries done in a given day.  If they have already met that quota, then they cannot treat any further patients until the next day.  This can create a back log that just keeps compounding on each other.
  4. Lack of available General Practitioner (GP) and Specialists. [ctt template=”3″ link=”Siu77″ via=”yes” ]Per a 2014 CBC Health News article, 4.4MM Canadians do not have a GP.(1) [/ctt]When you don’t have access to a GP or Specialist, people tend to utilize the ER for minor things as opposed to true emergencies.  This then creates long waits in the ER and takes valuable time away from those individuals who truly have an emergency.
  5. Lack of money.  Each province has their own budget of how much they spend on heath care resources.  Many of them have traditionally been fiscally conservative in how the money is spent.
  6. The aging Baby Boomer population.  As the Baby Boomers age, the need for more services are required that come with that aging process.  ‘The number of beds available for them may not be enough or may be blocked for budget reasons.  Community care is also limited.’(1)

Conclusion

Some experts have argued that changes need to be made to model other single payor systems in going to a 2-Tiered system which allows for privatization, using a cost sharing model for certain treatments or having to pay a co-pay for utilizing your GP or visiting the ER.  The Fraser Institute reported wait times the highest they’ve been in the 26 years they have been tracking it. Bacchus Barua(2) from the Frasier Institute has said [ctt template=”3″ link=”MDpxc” via=”yes” ]‘Canada is one of the highest spenders on health care in the developing world, but still has some of the longest wait times for treatment’.[/ctt] Although there are probably many other theories on where the medical wait lists began and most likely a combination of things there is no denying they exit.

We are experts at finding alternate, affordable, options if you are on a wait list.   Contact Health Vantis to see how we can help you find them!  877-344-3544 or info@healthvantis.com

Resources:

  1. CBC News/Health: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/medical-wait-times-up-to-3-times-longer-in-canada-1.2663013
  2. Bacchus Barua: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/hospital-wait-times-costing-national-economy-more-than-1b-375463401.html

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com

2017 Canadian Wait Lists: Broken Down By Province

2017 Canadian Wait Lists: Broken Down By Province…

In the 2 previous blogs this month, we gave a general overview of wait times for 2017 as well as a breakdown per specialty.  This week we’d like to provide the breakdown for each province.  The graph below indicates the wait time for each province broken down into: general practitioner (GP) to specialist, specialist to treatment and the total amount of time combined with these 2 factors.

Some of the changes in the first segment for a referral from a general practitioner (GP) to a specialist has risen from 9.4 weeks in 2016 to 10.2 weeks in 2017.  This is 177% higher than what it was in 1993.   The provinces where this increase has occurred are Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland & Labrador.

In the second segment of seeing a specialist and actual treatment has also increased from 10.6 weeks in 2016 to 10.9 weeks in 2017.  This is 95% higher than it was in 1993.

The overall wait time has increased in all provinces with the exclusion of British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador where the wait time decreased slightly.  Despite the decreases for these provinces, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are still leading the provinces with the longest wait times.

What causes these wait times?  Come back next week for more information on likely reasons the wait lists have existed and continue to rise.

For more information about Health Vantis and how we can help if you are on a wait list, contact us at 877-344-3544 or info@healthvantis.com.

Health Vantis

www.healthvantis.ca

877-344-3544

info@healthvantis.com