Patients Only Remember Us When They're In Pain

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6 Aug 2016 - General

Well not all of course. 

Anyway, I've been reorganizing my blog lately and I came across an old post about a patient who woke me up with a call at 5:35 am because her husband was in so much pain. I've seen the guy (for a consult) but I've never treated him--just his wife and son. Anyway, I already warned him about that tooth and he kept saying he's busy. When the wife called, she was asking me if I was already in the clinic--of course (at 5:35 am) I wasn't, and she was frantic so I told her to give her husband Flanax and to come to see me in the clinic at 9 am. The truth is, I don't usually prescribe Flanax because it's very good at masking the problem, but I just needed to help her.

When I got into the clinic at 9 am, I messaged her and told her they could come in, but after going through my morning appointmets the clock read 12:30 pm and still no sign of them. At 1:00 pm I finally received a text from her saying, "Doc he was relieved of pain. We'll just visit you... if ever". IF EVER WHAT??? Well, weeks after the wife called after hours (and I had just got home) so they decided to go to another clinic for a tooth extraction. The next day, she was calling me again, asking to see me on Monday because apparently the dentist could not take the tooth out so it broke. So basically, I saw them. I took the tooth out. Case closed. 


I get a lot of this because many patients think that popping a pill will resolve a dental issue. They pop a pill and the pain magically disappears--meanwhile, the problem is getting worse the longer they wait. They pop a pill because it works and when the pills do not work anymore, they cry for help. But of course you told them this would happen--and when they came in once, you pointed out the number of teeth with cavities. "But I don't feel anything, Doc" And I tell them, "But you see, you shouldn't wait for the pain." 

Prevention is better than cure--it's the hardest thing to teach. 


Tarah Cadiz That is very true. No matter how many times you try to explain the consequences, people just would not finish the course of their antibiotics. Marinelle Castro and Maria Cristina Inserto Our healthcare system really needs to be revisite...
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Oh yes Marinelle Castro. I really wish that our healthcare system improves. You know HMOs for dental are the worst. Let's put aside how low we are paid, but the coverage of most patients for dental is hardly valuable, and the truth is that patients do not really have "extra cash" to spend for a tooth cleaning or a filling (especially dentures/crowns) when they have more important things to spend for...
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One of the reasons why this is the attitude of our countrymen is because of our healthcare system. Majority of Filipinos settle their healthcare expenses in an out-of-pocket manner. Because of this, a lot of people have a few to spend for preventive heathcare measures. This is frustrating for us who work in the healthcare setting because more often than not, we see patients to late for us to be able to do something for them that will improve survival. Those who belong in the working class, on th...
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Maria Cristina Inserto, it does the trick most of the time. Your professionalism was topnotch with the story you shared. Toothache prevention is something that should not be neglected. In the emergency room, we have seen quite of elevated blood pressure due to toothache. I always tell patients to see their dentist in the morning because pain medications are a temporary fix. The sad thing in the Philippines, as I have previously mentioned, is that it is so easy to buy pain relievers and other sup...
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Indira Gayen, that is very true. Meticulous patient education about their disease is a must to make them understand that the root cause of pain will not go away with pain relievers. In my field, I always tell them the importance of doing maintenance exercise for a specific body part. I tell them in a light tone, sometimes in jest depending on the patient, this - "Remember to do your exercises regularly to pr...
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Oh yes, Indira Gayen, you are right. Usually when a patient insists he doesn't have a problem, I show him a good tooth and then I show him a tooth with dental caries and I say, "That's a problem already--and when you wait for it to be painful, that means there's already a hole/cavity and possible pulp exposure. You don't have to wait for that". And then most of them just look at you as i...
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