As a way to empower patients and teach them or their loved ones how to advocate for their own solution to back pain, I am declaring the “Spine Patient’s MRI Review Bill of Rights”.

1) You have the right to keep a copy of all your MRI, CT and X-ray images. You may get copies from the radiologist who performed the imaging. While they may send copies directly to your doctor, you should take a copy with you and get information on how they can be sent elsewhere.

2) You have the right to ask a surgeon to review your imaging. Even if your doctor is suggesting that surgery is not the best option, a review of your MRI, CT and X-ray by a surgeon will either corroborate this advice or provide additional information on your options. Many surgeons offer free MRI reviews without any commitments and no one should ever discourage you from a review.

3) You have the right to demand your doctor share all your records with a surgeon if necessary, or at least give you a copy. Often a surgeon will need additional information to complete an evaluation and your pain doctor or primary care doctor’s notes, diagnosis and other info helps complete this process. Your doctor should not just be cooperative but supportive when you ask their offices to share your chart information. Anything short of support and cooperation means you may be seeing the wrong doctor.

4) You have the right to a thorough explanation of the pros and cons of multiple pathways to back pain relief. Nothing in medicine is one size fits all, and when some excels delivering a particular type of care, combined with their clinical experience they can become staunch advocates of one particular pathway. Most who suffer back pain try multiple options before they find relief. Your doctor should be a partner in your search for relief rather than a lobbyist for their corner of medicine.

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