Friday, January 6, 2012

Don't Call Them "Side" Effects, Ithaca Lawyer Says, "Tell It Like It Is"

A recent trip to the Doctor reaffirmed a great many things. Modern medicine has made great leaps in recent years. They have embraced a culture and more importantly the philosophy of holism (holistic/conservative/non-invasive methods) as applied to medical treatment and care. But we are still a far way off.


The Doctor was telling us that a certain medicine has "side" effects. Oh Doctor, you mean "bad" effects? You mean, things that people would not choose or desire voluntarily? Well the drug may cause you to gain weight, the drug may cause you to have suicidal thoughts, the drug may make you tired all the time, and the list goes on and on. They call it a trade off. Are the drug's benefits worth the detriments? Sometimes?

What most lay people don't know is that drugs merely increase or decrease normally occurring function. They don't create new functions. Your body attempts to naturally regulate and balance everything. Drugs can be a modern miracle, and sometimes they can be a modern nightmare.


I wish that more Doctors would speak plainly, and not sugar coat the fact that drugs and treatment have two sides. Surgeries also have their share of "side" effects. Post surgery problems are called "complications." Did something simple just get complicated? Funny, but not if it's you.


A common procedure used for fractures is the ORIF (Open Reduction Internal Fixation). It is used by Doctors to set (fixate and position) broken bones and tissues to allow healing. Called "Open" because the surgeon must open you up first for placement of the devices versus a closed surgery (going in through the skin) called per cutaneous (cutaneous = skin).

The Complications from the ORIF:

When Doctors use Pins, Wires, Screws, Plates, Rods, and Nails (I'm always thinking is this carpentry or surgery?) it opens up possibilities for the following:

1. Possibility of an infection setting in. Remember anytime we open up the body it becomes much more vulnerable to an infection. Post surgery we have open skin leading down into the bone. Bone has poor internal blood flow so risk of infection is even higher. Normal skin is loaded with the body's own natural bacteria but any of this bacteria is extremely dangerous should it make passage to the internal bone.

2. Possibility of Migration. These parts and pieces may move. The body may try and reject them as it would any outsider (foreign) invader. The objects may wind up disrupting natural movement and function. They may require a revision (a new surgery) to get them out.

3. Possibility of loss of fixation. They may not keep everything in a specific position. The bones may move apart. This may lead to a fracture that does not heal. This is called Non-Union of a fracture.

4. Possibility of breakage. All of these objects can break and/or bend. This can also lead to a Non-Union.

The other common surgery for bone fractures is the CRIF (Closed Reduction Internal Fixation).

The Complications from the CRIF:

Even though the Doctors DO NOT OPEN YOU (fully) UP to set, fixate, and position the pins, screws, rods, wires, etc. we still can have the same complications as the ORIF. They are still piercing the skin (it is still an invasive surgery).

  • We still have outside (foreign) objects being placed within the body.
  • We still have the creation of passage for bacteria.
  • In some respects, we can be more at risk for infection because these devices may have to remain in position while the body heals. The objects are now both inside and outside the body simultaneously. Healing must occur with the screws or pins jutting out of the skin. Your wound sites need to be kept clean and monitored regularly.

KEY TAKEAWAY: Before making a decision to take a drug (especially long term) or have a procedure discuss everything (the good and the bad) with your health care providers. I call it the Open Eyes approach. In 2012 no one should hire a Doctor or Lawyer or any professional and be kept in the dark like a mushroom. By being fully informed you will feel empowered and confident in your decision. You should not be left wondering and wandering if it was the "right" choice. They are there to help YOU understand YOUR options as well as what you can and should expect post surgery.

Dr. Lawrence A. Newman
Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney at Law

504 North Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850