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Frequently Asked Questions for Patients

Frequently Asked Questions for Patients

Will I need an appointment with a spine surgeon?

Only if one is recommended. While some patients will not need an appointment with a surgeon, others may. In either case, we will provide you with a treatment plan so you can get on the road to recovery quickly.

Can the spine specialist evaluate my condition by reviewing my medical information without seeing me in the office?

Yes. Our nurse practitioner evaluates your condition based on your medical history, images and test results. This may be done in conjunction with one of our spine specialist physicians. An initial impression and treatment plan is then provided.

However, some patients may not have clear-cut symptoms identified on their intake information. These patients will need to be examined and evaluated further in the Spine Center by the nurse practitioner spine navigator.

What is a spine specialist?

Spine specialists are individuals whose expertise and training allows them to evaluate spine problems, identify pathological processes through history, examination, and studies, and advise treatment plans.

There are different types of spine specialists with different areas of expertise based on their training. At the Integrated Spine Center at Pardee we have spine specialist physicians in the areas of spine surgery, neurology and pain management. We also work closely with physical therapists that focus on spine care.

Our program is complimented with other medical specialists who help provide essential support, input, evaluation and treatment of spine center patients since other medical issues can complicate and aggravate spine problems, and other systemic medical problems can appear as spine problems.

What is a nurse practitioner spine navigator?

The nurse practitioner spine navigator at the Integrated Spine Center at Pardee is an advanced practiced nurse who is trained and licensed to diagnose and treat medical conditions. Our nurse practitioner has extensive experience in caring for patients with many different kinds of spine conditions. She works closely with our spine specialist physicians and will perform the initial review of your medical history and imaging studies. If needed, she will examine you in the Spine Center. She will also serve as a consistent point of contact for you and your family, and guide you through the referral process. If it is advised that you undergo surgery or another procedure, she will provide you with education so that you feel prepared for your procedure.

How long will it take for the nurse practitioner spine navigator to review my medical history and diagnostics? Will I get a telephone call with the results? How long before I hear something back about my status?

The nurse practitioner spine navigator reviews your information within one business day of receiving your complete information (medical history, films, etc.). Once an impression and treatment plan has been decided on, our spine coordinator will call you within one business day to advise you of the recommendation and next steps.

How long will it take to get better once I have a treatment plan?

Recovery varies greatly from patient to patient. Several things contribute to your progress, including your general health, level of fitness, lifestyle and your commitment to treatment.

How quickly will I get an appointment with a spine specialist physician after the review?

The nurse practitioner spine navigator will recommend when and with whom (i.e. surgeon, pain management, physical therapist) your appointment should be scheduled. Based on your symptoms you may be given a routine appointment (within one week), an expedited appointment (within 72 hours), an urgent appointment (within 24 hours), or an emergent appointment (same day).

Will I need to get my imaging films from the imaging center or will the Integrated Spine Center at Pardee retrieve them?

The Spine Center can request the images from your referring doctor or directly from the imaging center if possible. You can pick up your films and deliver them to us. Films done at Pardee Hospital are available on an online system with which the spine specialists have access. We can not begin reviewing your medical history until we have all images.

Can I just bring my films in when I come for my appointment with a spine specialist physician?

No. The spinal specialist needs to review your medical information and films in the hope that you can avoid surgery or begin treatment before seeing a surgeon. Review of your films and entire medical history related to your problem will result in getting you the quickest and most appropriate care.

What will happen with my films?

Your films are returned to the originating imaging center upon completion of your care. If the films are your own "patient" copies, then they will be returned to you after your care is complete.

Will my employment status be addressed?

Yes. Our nurse practitioner spine navigator can give you a work note that will cover you until you are seen by a spine specialist physician. Further determination of your work status will then be addressed by the spine specialist physician to whom you are referred.

Will my pain medication issues be addressed?

In certain cases, the nurse practitioner spine navigator will consider prescribing medication to you while you await your referral appointment to a spine specialist physician. It will then be up to the spine specialist as to whether or not to prescribe medications based on their own prescribing policies.

Will my insurance cover my visit?

The Spine Center provides free services, which include the initial intake interview, review of your records and the impression and treatment recommendation by the spine specialists, education materials, coordination of your care and communication with you and your referring physician. All of this is done online and over the phone.

Once an appointment is recommended, please contact your insurance company to verify your coverage and the level of benefits provided by your particular policy.