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December, 2002, Vol. 03, Issue 12
By Editorial Staff
The Acupuncture Poll's question for September 2002 was:
"Have you every referred a patient to a medical doctor or chiropractor for treatment?"
These results are based upon 286 responses. As this is a voluntary, non-scientific survey, caution should be used in generalizing the results. Here is a sample of the comments made by those who took the survey and how they voted:
Yes: Our most important duty is determining what is in the best interest of the patient. Sometimes, that means a portion of their needs will be better served by a different type of physician. Sometimes, a patient's needs are not at all amenable to our methods.
Also from a business perspective, if we want referrals from MDs and DCs, we should be willing to make referrals to them where appropriate.
Yes: In my experience, chiropractic and acupuncture are very effective together. When a musculoskeletal disorder doesn't respond as expected to acupuncture, chiropractic has often been very helpful. Also, when chiropractic has apparently reached a plateau for a patient, with many treatments and unstable results, acupuncture has made the difference in giving the patient better and more long-lasting results.
Yes: I am fortunate enough to work in an office that is truly "integrative." Not only do I work alongside MDs and DOs, but also chiropractors, massage therapists, a physical therapist and exercise physiologists. We refer to one another all the time. We also have bimonthly staff meetings with a physician. I only wish there were more doctors who realize the value of other modalities and the necessity of working with each other, not for our sakes, but for the quality of health care for the patients.
Yes: Since chiropractic physicians were the first to formally teach and perform research on acupuncture in the United States, they understand its importance. They also respect my referrals to them and will only perform chiropractic and send the patient back for their follow-up acupuncture treatments. This helps to solidify the importance of acupuncture in the patient's mind. I find there is only a small portion of medical physicians that are open-minded enough to not talk their patients out of seeing an acupuncturist, and most do not refer back. If I had to choose, I would refer to the chiropractic physician who has been trained in, and practices, acupuncture. It is also legally and medically prudent to refer if the condition is out of our scope or understanding, or if the person is not responding to treatment. It is foolish to believe that one type of medicine has all the answers.
No: I have never felt the need was sufficient to warrant the referral to a Western medical physician. I believe that the chiropractic referral has merit for some conditions, and I would not hesitate to make such a recommendation. The majority of my patients/clients have sought me out as a medical alternative to the abuse they have experienced at the hands of Western medical practitioners. I have found great misunderstanding on the part of Western physicians in the functioning of the human system. The diagnosis is too general, and the drugs are too hot or cold. I could not in good conscience make a recommendation of referral to a patient/client for a Western physician.
Yes: I believe this approach is putting the idea of integrative medicine into action. If practitioners of other, more "established" modalities see us as cohorts rather than threats, they are more likely to respond in kind (I hope).