What would you do if your patient was not progressing?

Answered by Jason Smith

When faced with a patient who is not making progress, it is important to take a step back and reassess the situation. This starts with conducting another thorough examination of the patient, including a review of their medical history and any recent changes in their condition. By doing so, you can ensure that you have not missed any important details or overlooked any potential underlying issues.

One common reason for a lack of progress is non-compliance on the part of the patient. It is crucial to determine whether the patient is following the recommended treatment plan, including medication, exercise, and lifestyle changes. This can be done by having open and honest conversations with the patient, asking about any difficulties they may be facing in adhering to the prescribed regimen. Sometimes, patients may not fully understand the importance of certain interventions or may have concerns or fears that need to be addressed. Taking the time to educate and support the patient can help improve compliance and subsequently their progress.

If the patient is compliant and still not progressing, it may be necessary to refer them to another healthcare professional for further evaluation. Physical therapy can sometimes be used as a diagnostic tool, helping to identify any underlying issues or contributing factors that may be hindering progress. By collaborating with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians or specialists, you can ensure that the patient receives a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach to their care.

In my experience, I have encountered situations where patients were not progressing despite seemingly appropriate interventions. In one case, a patient with chronic low back pain was not responding to the usual treatment modalities. Upon reassessment, I discovered that the patient had a history of previous trauma to the area and was experiencing significant psychological distress. By involving a psychologist in the patient’s care and addressing their emotional well-being, we were able to make significant progress in managing their pain and improving their overall function.

When a patient is not progressing, it is essential to reassess the patient, evaluate their compliance with the treatment plan, and consider referring them to other healthcare professionals if necessary. Collaboration and a comprehensive approach are key in addressing any potential underlying issues and ensuring the best possible outcomes for the patient.