In this edition, we offer an example of how clinicians and patients can be fooled and/or injured by fraudulent healthcare practitioners and their services. The clinical care team must be sure that the references it provides to patients are safe and reliable. Keep a list of reliable references and a list of those practitioners and services/treatments that should be avoided. Maintain an open door policy with your patients designed to encourage questions and exchange such information.
Patients often rely on your expertise in many more ways than just the provision of care.
Joanne, 49, was diagnosed with early breast cancer and treated with a lumpectomy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Now post-treatment, she is seen every 3 months at her regional cancer center. At the onset of her diagnosis and treatment, Joanne weighed 185 lb. At the end of her intensive regimen, she had dropped to 165 lb. Pleased with her weight loss, Joanne consulted the cancer center nutritionist on how to best continue her weight loss program. The nutritionist developed a meal plan for Joanne and provided references to resources outside of the hospital.
At her first 3-month check-up, Joanne weighed 155 lb. Both Joanne and the clinical staff were pleased with the results. However, Joanne still considered herself overweight and decided to consult a local nutritionist on the cancer center resources list for her area. The nutritionist had excellent credentials and a strong community reputation.
This nutritionist wanted Joanne to get tested for food allergies and toxins that might influence or interfere with a diet design, and recommended an internist in the next county to administer the tests. Joanne had never heard of this internist but was comfortable with the reference because of the local nutritionist's reputation. Joanne neglected to ask her family doctor for his opinion or ask her insurer whether such tests were covered.
The consulting internist performed the following tests: blood, hair analysis, and a series of provocative chelation tests to help identify toxins. Based on these tests, the internist determined that Joanne had heavy metal toxicity. Her insurer denied Joanne's subsequent request for coverage of the tests.
Joanne's employer was the owner of a pottery shop that uses chemicals in different development, processing, and finishing procedures. Her employer was concerned that if Joanne did have heavy metal toxicity, it could be related to her work. Therefore, the employer wanted to assess his liability and take safety measures if needed.