P.E.I.’s chiropractors are lobbying the province to authorize them to directly order X-rays for their patients.
The Chiropractic Association of P.E.I. has asked Health Minister Ernie Hudson to allow them to prescribe the X-rays, arguing that it would help take some pressure off the Island’s health-care system and that chiropractors in other provinces are able to do so already.
Currently, patients are required to go to their family doctor first to get a requisition for X-rays. Chris McCarthy, the association’s president, said that prevents patients from getting the care they need in an appropriate time.
“What I would do is take a patient, send them back to their family physician. A lot of times I’d send them a letter. The patient would then have to schedule an appointment,” said McCarthy, who has a practice in Summerside.
“Sometimes that’s going to take a little bit of time for them to get to see their family physician or their nurse practitioner. Sometimes they have to take time off work to do that … Then [they have to] go get the X-ray and then book back in to see myself again.”
The association said the red tape can potentially increase chronic pain, impede care and make some patients have to extend their time off work.
Crystal Wright, one of McCarthy’s patients, has chronic back issues and is now dealing with pain on her hips.
She said it took 10 days for her to get a phone call back from her family doctor after she made a request for X-rays.
“It was another appointment on top of an appointment, and then another appointment to go get the X-ray,” she said.
Wright said she is able to tolerate a high level of pain so she wasn’t too bothered by the wait, but that other people may not be able to do so.
“For anybody who’s in pain, any length of wait is very inconvenient to them because when you’re in pain, it’s an awful feeling,” she said. “My experience in all was good, but I’m not in excruciating pain.”
Minister Hudson told the association the province won’t be in a position to grant the request until a fully electronic medical record system is operational.
But McCarthy said chiropractors do not need access to such records to order the X-rays, and that since they already have the ability to order them indirectly, there wouldn’t be any need to change legislation either.
“I don’t understand why that’s a holdup, to be honest,” he said.
“It’s going to free up more time for physicians to see other patients. And when you can do that, it’s going to save some money for Health P.E.I. at the end of the day.”
The association plans to launch a social media campaign to raise awareness of the issue.
There are currently 15 chiropractors in P.E.I.