Pre-Operative Physiatry Consultations Reduce Spinal Surgery Rates

A new study published in the February 1 issue of Spine concludes that a consultation with a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R) physician, also known as a physiatrist, before proceeding to surgery results in more efficient treatment for low back pain, high patient satisfaction, and fewer surgeries.

The Effect of Required Physiatrist Consultation on Surgery Rates for Back Pain” reports data from Priority Health, an insurance company that began to require that its patients with nonurgent, spine-related pain or disability see a PM&R physician, also known as a physiatrist, before proceeding to surgery. After one year, there was a net decrease of more than $14 million in total spine care costs.

As a result of patients consulting with a PM&R physician before any surgical referrals, the number of spine operations dropped 25% and referrals for surgery decreased 48%. Patient satisfaction with this treatment for their back pain increased. Over 70% of the patients surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied with the physiatric consultation they received.

This study reinforces the belief at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine of giving the most appropriate care and treatment to our patients.