Can I go to a different prosthetist if I’m not happy with my current one?
Yes. There are many reasons why amputees choose a certain prosthetist. It could be based on location for convenience, or a recommendation from a fellow amputee. Feeling comfortable with the prosthetist who you are working with is a very important factor. Nothing makes a visit to a prosthetic clinic more dissuasive than seeing a prosthetist who you feel you can’t work with. Like selecting a dentist or a doctor, you want a prosthetist who genuinely shows empathy. More and more, healthcare providers are seeing that patient/client outcomes improve when the provider and the patient or client have established a connection. You want to be able to discuss your prosthetic care and concerns with your prosthetist with ease. You should feel that you are being listened to, and that options are openly discussed. It is you who will be wearing your prosthesis. It’s important that you feel comfortable with it and he or she who fabricates and fits it.
I feel that my prosthetist doesn’t listen to me. Should I just switch?
Talk to your prosthetist first. It can be as simple as saying “we need to talk” to open the conversation. Be direct about the issues that you are having and about the care you are receiving. You may be having difficulty understanding what is being explained in the appointments. Ask for the opportunity to ask more questions. If you feel rushed out of your appointments, or pushed aside, or low on the patient priority list, let them know. Sometimes “courtesies” are taken for granted when appointments become routine. Share your feelings with your prosthetist to uncover the cause of the issue with your relationship with him or her. If it truly is a personality conflict, I would recommend a switch.
What steps do I take if I decide to find another prosthetist?
1. Understand your insurance and funding situation. Find out what you qualify for in case a new setup is required with the new prosthetist. For example, if it is an ill-fitting socket, are you eligible to get a new socket if that’s what your new prosthetist recommends.
2. Start your research. Talk to fellow amputees about their experience with their prosthetist. Remember however, their situation is unique to them as is their personality. They may have a great relationship with their prosthetist, but that doesn’t mean you will. Take that into account when talking with other amputees.
3. Find a certified prosthetist. Aside from asking around, you can also check a prosthetist’s credentials on the Orthotics Prosthetics Canada (OPC) website: https://opcanada.ca. There you will find a listing of certified prosthetists in Canada.
4. Do your homework. Often times, what’s most frustrating for amputees is the jargon that prosthetists use. Write down what you’ve heard in your appointments and ask about it or research it. This can help build the relationship between you and your new prosthetist.
5. Set the right expectations. Your prosthesis is not going to replicate your missing limb. Expect some discomfort, but not discomfort that will prevent you from wearing and using your prosthesis. I always use a metaphor that speaks to wearing a new pair of hard leather shoes or steel toe boots to new amputees. It’s hard, has some weight to it and bulky, but can be broken in and gotten used to.
I’ve found a new prosthetist. Do I just make an appointment?
Yes. Ask for a consultation to meet with the prosthetist to see if you ‘jive’ with him or her. If you already have a prosthesis bring it with you, as well as any back-up or sports-specific prostheses. He or she may not need a referral from your doctor since you already have a prosthesis but be prepared to ask for one if the need arises. If you don’t have a prosthesis yet, you will likely need a referral letter or prescription. Once you’ve decided to move to a new prosthetist, let your former prosthetist know. If you have discussed your issues openly in the past, it’s common courtesy to inform him or her. And remember, your new prosthetist and your former prosthetist are colleagues. Be respectful.
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