A local doctor says a unique University of Calgary medical clinic is saving health-care dollars and should be expanded.

Specially-trained athletic therapists at the Acute Knee Injury Clinic diagnose patients and set out a treatment plan under the supervision of a doctor.

Mohtadi

Dr. Nick Mohtadi runs the Acute Knee Injury Clinic at the University of Calgary, a service he says is saving the Alberta health-care system a lot of money. (CBC)

Clinic director Dr. Nick Mohtadi said patients who might otherwise go months without a diagnosis can simply sign up online without a referral from a physician.

The clinic only treats people who have injured their knees in the last six weeks, not sufferers of chronic knee pain.

Patients of the clinic cost the province about a third of those treated elsewhere — with fewer complications, fewer repeat visits and fewer costly MRIs, Mohtadi said.

The clinic saves the health-care system up to $300,000 per year, he said.

Payam Zandiyeh injured his knee warming up before a workout but he still had no diagnosis after going to the ER twice, and he could barely walk. 

"The current system of going to emerg was a total failure for me. It didn't work,” he said.

It wasn't until Zandiyeh ended up at the Acute Knee Injury Clinic that he was told he had torn two ligaments.

Meryl Wheeler, one of the clinic's specially-trained athletic therapists, said she regularly sees people who haven't been able to get the help they need.

"Being through the system and lost in the system for three to six months of the year without really knowing what's wrong with their knee,” she said.

Mohtadi submitted a proposal to open a larger clinic for all joint and muscle problems at the new South Health Campus.

But even in a time when the province is looking to control ballooning health-care costs, he said his plan fell on deaf ears.

“I am a taxpayer and when I see a test or something that is done that is unnecessary then I'm paying for it as well. So why wouldn't it be frustrating to everybody, not just me? Everybody should be concerned about taxpayers’ dollars going to things that are unnecessary,” he said.