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New policy at PM - no spouses allowed back in rooms?

cherish22ccherish22 Posts: 706
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:24 AM in Pain Management
I had an appointment today at my pain management doc, and there was a new policy posted. No one but the patient allowed back to see the doctor. This was upsetting for 2 reasons. One, I want my husband there for support and two, we were discussing the SCS and I thought it important he be involved.

They took my blood pressure and vitals, got a urine sample (although I just had one 2 months ago when I first started) and once all that was done and just before the doctor came to see me, they asked if I had any opposition to my husband coming back.

I was just dealing with the usual pain and trying not to be upset, while my husband asked the receptionist and a nurse what the deal was. They said it is just a new policy, and they have had too many patients who are abused by their spouses and they want to give the patient the opportunity to admit to the doctor if there is domestic violence in their home.

HUH?? Does anyone else find that odd? Or normal? It was just upsetting to me because it was a new policy and I wasn't expecting it.

Thanks for your opinion/input.


  • :jawdrop: I've NEVER heard of that! I would be clearly pissed if I wasn't allowed to take my husband with me. I attend all of his doctor visits also. There is nothing that we keep from each other. My husband is my support system also, and many times he needs to be there just to learn something new that is going on. There are 1000's of reasons for him to be there. So was your husband not allowed to go back there at all? Can he go if you tell the doc you want him there? I find this disturbing on many levels, I hope it doesn't catch on!
  • :) hi! i have never heard of that either [( . i need my husband there to make sure my ideas get across to the doctor and that i understand the doctor completely. medication can make my thoughts hazy and it is a big plus to have him there. :? Jenny :)
  • to take someone in the room with me, because the medication causes me not to remember things. So if i didnt have someone with me i would forget half of what they say.

    Angie x
  • HI all. This is a very interesting post for me to read since I have only been on the other end, being a nurse and having not been married.
    I can see how this could be very upsetting if not handled well by the office. From the health care worker's perspective, it is one of the only ways to ensure that the patient has that opportunity to voice whatever may be going on without the spouse present. If we as health care worker's see anything that is suspect, and the spouse is present, this puts us in a terribly challenging position and it can can lead to more abuse. By making it look as though the spouse is not allowed, then a potentially abused spouse will have the excuse to be alone with the practitioner. Otherwise, too often, abuse goes unspoken because the abusive spouse refuses to leave the abused alone.
    In addition, although you all are very comfortable with your spouses, some do not want their's to know quite everything (for whatever reason is not my place to judge), so they may put their own healths at risk by not being completely forthcoming in the assessment.
    It sounds as though you all have wonderful, supportive spouses, which is so inspiring and wonderful to hear! I hope you all can understand that this creates what might possibly be one's only opportunity to cry for help.
    As far as I know, if the patient requests his or her spouse to be present, there are generally no objection to this; it just has to be verified by the patient.
    Thank you for the interesting discussion and perspective!
    Take care,
  • too many partners are hijacking the appointments?

    Just a thought.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,726
    I do not believe ANY medical office has the RIGHT to refuse to allow someone to come into the exam room with the patient.
    There are so many valid reasons why this is done.

    On the other side, I can see a office ASKING the patient first. This give the patient the right to determine if they want someone in with them.
    There are many situations in which a patients spouse, or family member does NOT know all about a given medical condition. And the patient wants to keep in that way.

    So, that policy is understandable. In fact it is showing more compassion towards the patient.

    Now, if the office flat out refused a patient to have someone come in with them, THEN I would have a MAJOR MAJOR problem with that office.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • The clinic I go to has had the "patient only" policy in the exam room for as long as I've been going there. The only exception is for patients who don't have the mental capacity to make their own decisions; in that circumstance, the surrogate decision-maker is allowed in the room.

    I was taken aback by the policy at first, but then I chalked it up to another "hoop" and jumped on through it.

  • One visit I had recently with a neurologist.
    I was in office with my hubby and son, I always have one of them with me with a doc appointment.
    After all us being in room with doc for about 15 minutes she asked them to leave. she wanted to be sure I was not being abused by anyone by any way. (I believe this was because my large herniation at c6-7 would usually be caused by some force of some kind)(I believe the herniation that is impinging on my C6-7 was caused by many visits with chiropractor, this is just my thought and I have no proof)
    after she and I talked and she understood my dear hubby and son has only been helpful to me and would never do anything to cause me pain or ever hurt me she then had them come back in.
    I understand this for I have been in medical field and have seen and heard many times when a spouse or health care worker has been abusive. I myself have been asked to leave the doc office when bringing a patient to doc appointment or even a house visit from doc. and I never felt bad or anything about having to leave room for a short time while doc and patient talked I do believe This is very common and feel it can help many patients that have or are being abused in some way.
    I believe it is so very important to have someone go with you to appointments for many many reasons and find it very helpful with people going through medical issues. I could not imagine having to go to doc appointment over serious issues by myself. I would have nobody to help me understand everything doc said.

    RON If doc ask patient in front of spouse or care taker if they would like that spouse or caretaker to leave they would say no even if they really would like to talk to doc alone because they are afraid and have to go home with that person. I personal have had to ask a wife to leave the room in the hospital for a few minutes. because the doc asked me to have wife leave so he could talk to him alone, and I was in the room with doc while they talked.... you would be shocked at what I heard, another thing when ever a nurse or doc suspects any abuse even just a maybe this is proper thing that has to be done and has saved alot of patients from being abused anymore.I have seen this more then one time with my own eyes.
    I will leave this at what I said and wont go any further with it because I have plenty I could say but I hope all get the picture.
    Hugs and Smiles to all my Spine-Health friends..Patsy
  • Many offices have a similar if not exactly the same policy now. It does allow the patient to discuss anything that they may not want their spouses to know, with the provider before a spouse/SO is in the room.
    They do allow the spouse/SO in , after they have asked the patient if they want them in there. :)))
    My husband is also supportive, but I have had times that I just didn't want him in the room with me....not because I had anything that I wanted to hide, but I just wanted to get through the appointment and get home and my husband is Mr. Social Butterfly... :D
    It is for the protection of the patient, who is the first priority of the medical provider, and once they ensure that there isn't any cause for concern, they usually have no problem with bringing /allowing a spouse/SO in to the room.
  • I had to have my husband wheel me into my PM appt. right after my fusion. He was back in the room too, and he got a chance to meet the staff and asked a couple questions. There is no policy like that where I go, unless you're having a procedure done.
  • always comes with me and I with him. But I do understand the other side of it.
  • Cherish:

    I understand how this must have shocked you. We tend to get used to doing things a certain way, and to all of a sudden have to switch gears can be a little disconcerting.

    I do agree with Lauren (Froggyrn1) and (of course) Ron. I too think it shows a great deal of compassion on the part of the health care provider, and also would be upset if I requested my spouse be with me and was refused.

    Patsy (Ladybug) - I, too have had a sneaking suspicion that my neck problems were the result of the chiropractor!! Even though as a child I played just as hard as the boys and my first husband was abusive, I just cannot imagine what event(s) would be the cause for just about every disk or vertebrae in my neck to be bulged, herniated or just plain ole decrepit. Same for my back. I did go to a chiro for severe torticollis (fancy word for "crick in my neck"). So, thanks for validating my little naggy voice. I mean, just because a person is paranoid - that doesn't mean people aren't out to get them, right? ;)

    (great - add paranoia to my depression - the psych will have a field day with me, let me tell ya! @) )

    Anyways, thanks for the interesting post topic, Cherish!

    Take care boys and girls!

  • Once a doctor feels comfortable and realizes there is no abuse going on that he can see or feels this is not a problem,
    I have found the doctor will let caregiver, spouse or caregiver back in room to help patient with question or being a second ear to the discussion and so on. They only do this because they are looking out for the best interest of patient.
    This is not only my opinion, but from my experiences.
  • It's not a bad policy, if as many here have stated, it's enforced properly and not used as a wedge.

    I have an awesome husband. When all my back troubles started and things went south after my first surgery, the doc was smart and made sure my husband was in on all appointments and exams. He knew the importance of making sure my caregiver could "see" that things weren't right and why and what the next steps needed to be.

    As long as there can be exceptions to the rule, then I think it's okay.

  • Hiya patsy, :H
    I have been in the situation :S , where it was the other way around :( . This one time i didnt take anyone in the room with me and the surgeon was down right rude, :? abnoxious, arrogant he intimidated me :O . After that day when i go for my appointments i make sure there is someone in the room with me :SS .I tried making a complaint but i was advised against it :''( , as he was the leading trauma surgeon for the hospital, and i didnt have a chance against him or the hospital who was by his side :( .

    Angie x >:D<
  • If a few of us can make it through several of our appointments without our spouses so in return so abused patients can get help - then I am doing some good somewhere....does that make sense?

    I would love it if my husband could be there. But I understand that in hindsight, this could be hurting the lady in the room next door to me. I am willing to give up my husband in the room for the lady in the room next door.

    My god - I think this topomax is really taken my brain and flushed it down the toilet. It has taken me like 10 minutes to type this post...mispellings...miswordings...misthoughts...wow...I am stupid now. Is this a common side effect?!?!
  • I think I can understand not sure.
    I am also one of those that needs hub/or a family member in when I go. As I tend to forget things that were said to.

    Mabye the office had to many situations of mental abuse on the spouse for being in pain managment?? But of course then again a pain managment office is not going to take on a patient with no medical evidence of pain. (most anyway).

    Yes I have here and there seen spouses talk horribly to the patient after a appt while checking out believe it or not.
    Of course that is not my life and I am not used to yelling back and forth with a spouse.
    We do have friends and that is their normal nature of their marriage.
    I don't know where I am going with this.
    But if they are a great drs office and treat you properly I would continue to go. As in some areas PM's are few and far between.

    I'v had many of times that I was unable to answer questions in full like in a ER setting. So hub or someone else has had to answer for me.
    Of course that is always the first question in the E.R. "Is there any abuse" H*** NO or he would not be sitting next to me!!!!

    I don't know. I really don't.
    They should of sent you paperwork or mentioned it when confirming your appt before you went in so it was not such a shock to ya.

    Hang in there
    Terri O:) O:) O:) O:) O:)
  • Ive been thinking about this :? is it or is it not the patients right to request spouse, friend, or family to be by there side in consutations??? :/ :/ :/

    Angie /:)
  • As to the pain clinic I go to, my husband doesn't come in with me and it never occured to me to ask him to come in. The rooms are very small and I don't want my husband watching me get injections in my back. I think he's enough support for me afterwards. I think that's normal as I don't see any other spouses in the other rooms. I guess I prefer my husband not be there anyway. But I can't see the harm if he came in during consultations only and not the treatment time for me anyway. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • As to the pain clinic I go to, my husband doesn't come in with me and it never occured to me to ask him to come in. The rooms are very small and I don't want my husband watching me get injections in my back. I think he's enough support for me afterwards. I think that's normal as I don't see any other spouses in the other rooms. I guess I prefer my husband not be there anyway. But I can't see the harm if he came in during consultations only and not the treatment time for me anyway. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Dont you go down to theatre for the injections???
  • My clinic has one side for appointments and the other side for injections and procedures. Hubby does not go with me for the procedures and is very happy to stay in the waiting room. lol

    However, when I go for appointments and my treatment is discussed, he always comes with me. For one, I do not drive on the medications I am taking, so he is always there. Also, I can't be relied on to remember what is said or necessarily properly understand it. Depends on level of meds and level of pain. Usually by the time I have ridden in the car and then sat for quite a while in the waiting room, my pain is skyrocketing. It is very hard to think straight through all that pain.

    To clarify on the original post, once the nurse (and then doctor) asked me if I had any objection to hubby coming back, they let him come back. We were discussing the SCS trial and I absolutely wanted him there.

    As for future appointments, I don't know how it will work. I'm guessing that every single appointment will go as it just did - I will go back, get vitals, asked questions, etc and given every opportunity to come clean if there is any abuse or such in my relationship. As long as I know he will eventually be allowed to come back, I will be fine.

    Another thought I had, however, is that when we leave and other spouses waiting in the waiting room see him leave with me, won't they get mad if they wanted to go back also? Just wondered if that would be a problem. I can see patients not wanting their spouse to come back for other reasons having nothing to do with abuse.

  • This is how it works with our hospital when you have epidural and facet joint injections :) . You are booked into a day unit, but put on the orthopedic ward :S . When i asked why i was on the ortho ward i was told it was in case anything went wrong they had all the equipment there :SS . Your spouse is allowed to stay with you until they come to fetch you to take you down to theatre :SS , no one is allowed with you as its a sterile enviroment. :)

    Angie x
  • The Doctor's office are one and the same,consults as well as treatments. It's only after I get the injections i go in the recovery room. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I agree that this policy is a helpful one... so long as they allow you to bring someone in with you at your request. I usually clam up in front of doctors, or don't remember everything that was said. I always feel a lot better having my husband with me, because he asks the questions I forget to, and I do seem to get treated better with him in the room.

    I did have a situation a few years back, when I was pregnant with my first child. I was bleeding, and went to the ER. We were sitting in the room, and the doctor asked (not so nicely) quite a few times if I wanted my husband there. I was frightened and couldn't stand the thought of him NOT being in the room with me. I understand their thinking, but It crossed my mind that if I were being abused in some way, I certainly wouldn't have said "No I don't want him here" right in front of him.

    That's why I think it would be a good idea to have a "policy" no spouse in the room. Then when the patient gets back there, they may be more honest saying whether they want them there or not. I have personally witnessed my own mother lying about abuse, when it was CLEARLY obvious she was being abused. Had the authorities believed her, who know how far it would have gone. He was actually put in jail that night for 16 years!
  • I have to be honest I don't understand first part of your post completely.

    You are not stupid! I read many of your post.
    Just want to let you know I do the same thing and sometimes I blame it on my brain my meds my eyes oh oh many things. not familiar with topamax so cant help you there. Patsy
  • Yes...its the meds...its like I can not get my thoughts out!

    I was going to try again- I even typed it all out again. But it doesnt sound any better.

    Basically I am willing to not have my husband not come back with me if that means that a battered woman gets saved.
  • Beyond the abuse issue, I can see where having the spouse or family member in the room can negatively impact the quality of care. Physicians really need a view of our physical and cognitive functioning, independent of other people's involvement.

    If my medication is making my brain foggy, but my spouse keeps me "on track" during my appointment, how realistic is the physician's view of my cognitive abilities? If my spouse has given me subtle cues that trigger my memory during the appointment, can the physician really accurately evaluate whether I'm going to remember to turn off the stove burner if my spouse isn't there?

    If I can't remember specific information about medication that is prescribed during the appointment and I can't establish healthy internal coping mechanisms to compensate for the memory issues, then how can the physician really establish safety with medications at home, on a day my spouse or family member isn't there to cue me?

    From the physician's standpoint, these are very valid concerns. Personally, I would give more weight to the importance of an accurate assessment than to a "want" of a patient to have their spouse present.

  • Patient has appt with pain doc. Patient wants an increase in opiate meds. Patient asks spouse to come to visit to back them up in thier request for more meds. Tell the doctor honey how much worse my pain has been etc. Now doctor has to deal with two individuals.

    This is the reason I will never include my spouse in those type of appointments.

    My take.

  • Hi,
    Interesting at out PM the patients loved ones were invited to come and explain what it was like living and attempting to help a person with chronic pain, it did not make for easy listening, the impact this had on hope and dreams of others and how things were not addressed on both sides for the ease of the relationship.

    I have been fortunate to not have been over cared for and told when I needed to change my attitude or do something within my capabilities. Some of the initial assessment was how this partnership worked in helping you live with the pain rather than in it.

    All those learned behaviours can suppress our need to take some responsibility and help ourselves and that dividing line is very discreet and variable. I have been to many assessment and to some extent knew beforehand through research what and who they were looking for, I did give them the answers they wanted, and to some extent they picked those who they could have some control or were not resistant to change itself.

    If a patient came to the PM sessions with the sole intention of not trying anything at all, what would be the point, one might say that it is those who need the most help and I am not a doctor. Most doctors do not like to be double teamed as I would not, one interviewed me and two took notes.

    Most can see though our pretence of the happy game face, a micron from the truth, oh yes I’m fine, for patients these are sensitive issues and it is difficult to stand alone with all your restriction exposed.

    Our supporters need to help us help ourselves, look in that mirror and question everything we do, it is not easy. I am proud of who I am, and vocal in how I have coped in difficult circumstances, I have had a lot of support and guidance and embraced that for my own benefit. We are all working toward improvement wherever we are at this time.

    Take care and be kind to yourself.


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