It goes without saying that everyone has been affected by the pandemic in 2020. In my world, orthopaedic doctors are staffing ICU’s in an effort to help the real heros – the medical doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers at NY Presbyterian Hospital. As we shut down our offices for all but the most urgent problems, we have plunged into the world of telemedicine – visits done “virtually” through internet connections.
One casualty of virtual medicine is the x-ray. Routine x-rays are used in my office constantly to monitor healing of fractures or surgeries. It is interesting to note that most surgeries and most fractures heal well, and the x-rays are done more to boost confidence than to really guide treatment. Having said that, x-rays are so ingrained in our normal daily workflow, that we feel insecure to move forward without them. Yet I have not obtained any x-rays on any telemedicine patients in the past month!
People heal, even without x-rays, and perhaps one of the small good things that might come out of this event is that surgeons may feel more confident to move forward with less x-rays, saving some money for patients and the health care system as a whole.