If people do not pay attention to their health and their body’s warning signals, things can go wrong and worsen quickly. Unfortunately, my mother was one of those folks who thought she was ‘fine”. Unfortunately, she did not pay attention to her body telling her that her pancreas was not working well.
In fact, she paid so little attention to those warning signs that she lost her vision as a result. She was diabetic, blind, and needed home health care services. Although they were wonderful, the care she needed could have been prevented.
The care and services provided by those home healthcare professionals were designed to meet the needs of two types of clients: The elderly, including those suffering from memory-related illnesses, and the seriously injured – individuals of all ages requiring care and rehabilitation after suffering an incapacitating illness or injury, such as my mom. She was only in her fifties at that time and was visually and physically impaired due to the progression of diabetes.
Here are a few things that could happen if we do not pay attention to our bodies when it is “trying to tell us something”:
- Increased risk for developing additional medical conditions due to untreated conditions (i,e. loss of vision, neuropathy, loss of a limb, etc.)
- Health conditions will worsen, leading to more serious complications
- Reduced quality of life due to the untreated condition
- Increased risk of infection due to an existing medical condition
- Delaying medical attention can lead to permanent damage or disability (my mom could no longer drive as a result of her vision loss)
- Possible permanent disfigurement or scarring due to untreated injury
- Unnecessary pain and suffering due to an untreated condition (i,e. ignoring a broken bone)
- Higher medical costs due to delayed treatment
- Increased risk of death due to the untreated condition
- Increased risk for complications related to existing medical conditions
Delays in medical care may increase morbidity and mortality risk among those with underlying, preventable, and treatable medical conditions. Sadly, my mother was never able to get her diabetes under control since it wasn’t addressed until too late. As a result, she had all of the complications one could have with diabetes and passed away at the young age of fifty-eight years old.
What are delayed consequences?
Let’s say it is not as serious as my mom, and you “think” you may have broken a bone but are not sure, and you definitely do not want to make a trip to the ER. Think again, as these could be the potential consequences:
- Open fractures
- Nerve damage
- Joint infections
- Internal bleeding
- Weakness or pain in the arms or neck
- Difficulty breathing
- Possible broken bones
Delayed access to health care and mortality
Lack of health insurance coverage may negatively affect health. For example, uninsured adults are less likely to receive preventive services for chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Not to put too much “blame” on the patient (my mom), but the lack of healthcare coverage for her was one of the main reasons she did not seek medical attention early on. She thought she couldn’t afford it and thus, sadly, didn’t receive it.
The consequences of delaying medical care are well-known and can be serious. Uninsured adults like my mom often cannot access the preventive services they need to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. This usually leads to a greater risk of developing additional medical conditions, worsening of existing health conditions, reduced quality of life, increased risk of infection, permanent damage or disability, unnecessary pain and suffering, higher medical costs, increased risk of death, and increased risk of complications related to existing medical conditions.
Delayed access to health care and mortality are also linked. Studies have shown that uninsured individuals are more likely to experience adverse health outcomes due to a lack of access to preventative health care services. This can include a higher risk of death due to an untreated condition or a greater risk of developing additional medical conditions due to untreated conditions.
It is important to remember that while delaying medical care may be necessary for certain situations, taking care of your health and seeking medical attention as soon as possible is vital. Early detection and treatment of medical conditions can help reduce the risk of developing additional medical conditions that worsen existing health conditions, reduce the quality of life, and increase the risk of death.
Delayed access to health care: risk factors, reasons, and consequences
As already demonstrated by the example of my mom, horrible outcomes can happen as a direct result of delayed health care. Let’s discuss some more risk factors, reasons, and consequences.
There are numerous risk factors associated with delayed access to health care. These can include financial barriers, lack of knowledge, language, and cultural barriers, lack of transportation, and lack of access to healthcare facilities. Additionally, individuals may be reluctant to seek medical attention due to fear, stigma, or mistrust in health care providers.
- Lack of knowledge can also be a barrier to health care. Those unfamiliar with the health care system may be unaware of the services available to them or the steps they need to take to access those services. Additionally, those with a limited understanding of their health conditions may be unable to recognize warning signs or delays in seeking medical care.
- Language and cultural barriers can also be a significant obstacle when it comes to accessing health care. Those unfamiliar with the healthcare system’s language and culture may be unable to communicate effectively with healthcare providers or access the services they need. Additionally, certain cultural beliefs may lead individuals to delay or avoid seeking medical attention.
- Lack of transportation can also be a barrier to health care. Those who lack access to reliable transportation may be unable to access medical services, leading them to delay or avoid seeking medical attention.
- Fear, stigma, and mistrust in health care providers can also be barriers to health care. For example, those who are hesitant to seek medical attention due to fear or stigma may be reluctant to seek medical attention. Additionally, those who mistrust healthcare providers may be reluctant to seek medical attention or unaware of available services.
Obviously, the consequences of delayed access to health care are serious.
Consequence of delaying medical care
In conclusion, delays in seeking medical care can lead to serious consequences, as discussed above. Therefore, taking care of your health and seeking medical attention as soon as possible is crucial. Early detection is always best. Contact a healthcare professional immediately if you are experiencing any health issues. Even if you think they are not “urgent,” check anyway.