Can’t We All Get Along?

In Australia we use a General Practitioner (GP) to manage our healthcare. The GP is the first port of call for a health issue, and if it is outside the GP’s range of experience the patient is then referred to a Specialist for further treatment.

Now GPs are great. They have to deal with an enormously vast array of medical issues, from newborns to the elderly. They are also human. They cannot be expected to know, recall or have experience with everything. It does seem however, that they are becoming less willing to make a call on anything these days, and simply refer patients to specialists as soon as possible. It is fear of legal ramifications?

Specialists too seem reluctant to tread anywhere but firmly in the boundaries of their specialty. Why is it they know nothing about any other field of medicine – or are at least unwilling to discuss it?

This year my GP has given me referrals to a neurologist, psychologist and gynaecologist as well as managing some other “straight forward” issues for me. When my gynaecologist told me the five different medications I was on was the reason for my problem (not to mention, probably not working effectively as my liver simply could not process it all) I wanted to hug her. Thank you for not just focusing on your specialty and for looking at the big picture.

Weeks later when my GP suggested putting me on medication to alleviate a new concern, I actually laughed at him (and refused the meds).

What I want to know is, why do medical professionals operate in a vacuum? I have been seeing specialists for ten years now, and it is always the same story. They do not seem to want to expand their care of you outside of what they already know. If it is another field, then it is someone else’s problem.

The problem with this approach is that it is not uncommon for issues to overlap, and for treatments of one symptom to cause another.

So medical professionals, how about you start talking to each other? That would help us patients out a lot.

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