Fri 09 December 2016
If you’re looking for protection from medical errors when you need to be treated, the news is not comforting.
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine, an agency of the US government, issued a report called ”To Err Is Human.” NHS Heroes It reported the once unbelievable fact that between 44,000 and 98,000 patients died each year due to medical errors…and so the phrase “patient empowerment” was born.
By 2004, it was estimated that 195,000 people in the US died due to medical errors…guess no one got the memo…
In 2009, according to an investigation by the Hearst Media Corporation, as a follow-up to the 1999 research, deaths caused by “preventable medical mistakes and infections” were estimated to be 200,000.
Was Anybody Listening????????
AND YET people ask me, WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ME?
I have spent many years watching patients blindly follow their doctors’ advice…without understanding half the words the doctor used…
-–taking every medicine each doctor ordered, without even knowing what they were for, or how well those meds would interact with others ordered by a different doctor…
—paying for (or these days, fighting their insurance carriers to get them to pay) multiple blood tests, x-rays, and other types of tremendously expensive exams such as MRI’s and Ultrasounds, without a clue about how the findings would affect their lives
It’s time to put on your glasses and take a look at the ways that you can become your own best friend, when it comes to your health.
1) Take responsibility
You know your body better than anyone else, use all the resources you can find and trust, from people to books, and use what you learn to help you make informed decisions about your treatment..The decision lies within YOU.
2) Get evidence
Use all the available resources from recording symptoms and family histories, to participating in medical tests, to discussions with providers and other patients, to using the library and internet, for researching relevant diseases, conditions and treatments.
3) Set goals
Realize that your body doesn’t always react the way you expect it to…so it’s better to set a goal for your treatment (with your doctor, or with the help of a nurse educator) and work toward the results you want for your health. In some cases patients have a goal to heal completely, while others just want to manage a chronic illness, cope with a new diagnosis or just learn more about what’s going on in their bodies.
4) Remember that you are a “consumer” in this world of healthcare. Be a SMART one.
Sometimes you’ll face a challenge that has to do with customer service and costs of service, more than with the care itself.
Research your insurance choices, or check out your local state/county health department for discounted or free medical resources.
And know when it’s time to walk away from a specific physician’s practice, if you are not getting the attention and help you want and need.
5) Stay SAFE
We usually hear or read about the big errors…those incredible mistakes that make us shake our heads with disgust. But, millions of “smaller” mistakes take place every day. From patients being given the wrong medicines to getting infections in the hospital, and surgeries that did not go well….Be aware of these safety problems, so that they don’t involve YOU.
6) Make your decision
Once you’ve done your homework and have worked with knowledgeable members of a healthcare team, make your informed decisions, feeling confident that they are the best ones for you in dealing with your health problems.
More and more, patients today are realizing they can participate fully in their treatment, and guide their medical outcomes by taking responsibility for their health, and working with health practitioners of their own choice, who will help them reach their goals.