PREPARED PATIENT BLOG

Patients and experts explore what it takes to find good health care and make the most of it.

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Prepared Patient: Coping With the High Costs of Prescriptions

Health Behavior News Service | December 31, 2010

Cost-cutting measures are creeping into the medicine cabinet. We split pills in half or take the drugs every other day to stretch our doses. We stop filling the prescriptions for our most expensive drugs. We buy prescriptions from online pharmacies with questionable credentials. As patients pay more for their prescription drugs ' whether it's through higher insurance co-pays or shouldering the full costs ' many people decide to opt out of taking the drugs altogether. But there are safer ways to cut costs than skimping on ' or skipping 'the medicines you need.

Prepared Patient: Need Help With Your Mental Health?

Health Behavior News Service | December 30, 2010

Insomnia and oversleeping, slowed speech, hopelessness, frequent crying and lack of focus all are symptoms of depression. Overeating or lack of appetite; suicidal thoughts; loss of interest or pleasure in activities and relationships that usually bring joy; anxiety and difficulty feeling pleasure or sustaining positive emotions can occur as well.

Prepared Patient: The Handoff: Your Roadmap to a New Doctors Care

Health Behavior News Service | December 29, 2010

It could be a broken wrist, or a life-altering battle with cancer, but sooner or later most patients run up against the diagnosis that sends them from their primary care doctor's care into the hands of a new physician. In medical circles, this transition is called the "handoff" a casual name that conceals the complications and risks of this journey.

Prepared Patient: Sorting Out Medical Opinion Overload

Health Behavior News Service | December 28, 2010

When her grandmother experienced a sudden onset of dizziness, slurred speech and facial drooping, Kafi Grigsby found herself in an emergency department waiting room, surrounded by five doctors with four different opinions on what had occurred and how to treat it.

Prepared Patient: Taking Charge of Your Health Records

Health Behavior News Service | December 27, 2010

File folders, marching across the shelves in an orderly line behind the receptionist's desk, may be the first thing you see when you sign in for a doctor's appointment. While it's tempting to believe that your personal health history is neatly contained within one of those folders, the truth is far more troubling.

Prepared Patient: Effective Patienthood Begins With Good Communication

Health Behavior News Service | December 24, 2010

Given all the obstacles that prevent us from getting to the doctor's office scheduling an appointment, digging out the insurance card and plain old procrastination it is good health sense to make the most of your time when you are finally face-to-face with your health care provider.

Inside Health Care: Are Patients 'Priceless?'

CFAH Staff | December 23, 2010

An inside look at the cost of health care: a physician confused by the transparency of Medicare reimbursements and a patient in San Francisco unable to afford treatment for an enlarged prostate.

Assessing Risk: Medicare Advantage vs. Medigap vs. Drug Coverage Only

Trudy Lieberman | December 22, 2010

As Medicare's open enrollment season draws to a close, it's a good bet that seniors are still sifting through all those brochures and flyers that have come in the mail the last several weeks. My husband received 22. Here's a simple rule to make the sifting go a little faster.

Patient Perspectives: Spoon Theory, Gift Ideas, and Stockpiling Meds

CFAH Staff | December 21, 2010

A collection of patient voices from around the web. This week's roundup includes: Christine Miserandino & e-Patient Dave on The Spoon Theory, Amy Tenderich with gift advice, and WarmSocks on keeping an emergency supply of meds.

Why Medical Testing Is Never a Simple Decision

Marya Zilberberg | December 20, 2010

A women goes from healthy to heart transplant patient in just a few weeks. Could this have been avoided? True positives, false positives, false negatives, true negatives'how can we understand and use our test results to make good treatment decisions?

Prepared Patient: Medical Testing: You Need Answers

Health Behavior News Service | December 20, 2010

Deborah Lewis got a shock when her pain management clinic called about a recent MRI test: They told me I needed to see an oncologist right away, that I had tumors on my spine. An oncologist did a lot of tests even though he said the MRI report didn't indicate anywhere that I had tumors or cancer. In fact, Lewis just had benign tumors common to her chronic medical condition. After a lot of wasted money, time and a whole lot of fear, we learned to question all test results,' she says.

Mini-Med Policies: Is the Government Telling Us Something We Don't Already Know?

Trudy Lieberman | December 17, 2010

The new health reform bureaucracy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced that it will now require employers, health insurers and union welfare benefit funds to disclose to policy holders that the health insurance they have may not be real health insurance at all. They now have to tell us if their coverage does not meet minimum benefit standards required by law and by how much they fall short. So those who have mini-med policies will now get a notice telling them that their policies cover very little. As if people don't already know.

What a Year for the Center for Advancing Health!

Douglas Kamerow | December 16, 2010

As many of you know, this fall, Jessie Gruman, CFAH Founder and President, was diagnosed with stomach cancer, her fourth cancer-related diagnosis.' We have all been touched and gratified by good wishes for her and CFAH from around the world.

Conversation Continues: Kangaroo Care & 'Less' is 'More'

CFAH Staff | December 15, 2010

Sometimes, the best way to progress isn't to advance to step up with more money, more technology, more modernity. It's to retreat.

Good Idea, Bad Execution: Dosing Errors, A Preventable Harm

Scott Gavura | December 15, 2010

Dosing errors are among the most common and most preventable causes of adverse drug events in children. Why? Despite the prevalence of dosing errors, there has been little evidence telling us what health professionals, or parents, can do better. Until now'

Health Reform: Elections, Politics and Patients

Lisa Esposito | December 14, 2010

Health care reform is a hot topic with yesterday's court ruling that a portion of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

Finding a Medigap Policy on the Web? Better Think Twice

Trudy Lieberman | December 10, 2010

Oh, those clever insurance agents, always on the prowl for new customers. This time they are using the current period of open enrollment for Medicare to snag customers for other insurance products'products that consumers may not need or want.

Conversation Continues: Living with Chronic Illness - Julian Seifter's Wise Guidance

CFAH Staff | December 8, 2010

Jim Sabin, MD, offers his take on Dr. Seifter's insights about living with a chronic illness.

Clueless In Health Care

Chris Gibbons | December 8, 2010

Some patients don't tell their doctors the full story about their health. Sometimes physicians aren't aware of the omission; others know the patient is withholding information. Either way, physicians are responsible for the decisions they make regarding what they know and do for these patients. Electronic health records will not change this reality.

Why We Still Kill Patients: Invisibility, Inertia, And Income

Michael Millenson | December 7, 2010

A recent front-page article in the New York Times conveyed grim news about patient safety. The first large-scale study of hospital safety in a decade concluded that care has not gotten significantly safer since the Institute of Medicine's 1999 estimate of up to 98,000 preventable deaths and 1 million preventable injuries annually.

Powerful Patients Revisited

Andrew Schorr | December 7, 2010

There's some confusion out there in the media that Patient Power is only about patients holding hands and providing emotional support to one another. It's the warm and fuzzy side of medicine, like sitting at someone's bedside. That support is terrific. But these days the leadership role of a well-intentioned and well-informed patient doesn't stop there.

Patient Perspectives: Living with Diabetes, Ceasing Treatment, Impatience, and Indigestion Gone Wrong

CFAH Staff | December 3, 2010

A collection of patient voices from around the web. This week's roundup includes: Dr. Julian Seifter on living with diabetes, RA Warrior Kelly Young, Jim Stanicki on Trisha Torrey's Patient Empowerment Blog, Cynthia Lott Vogel on e-Patients.net, and one patient's expensive visit to the ER.

Assessing Your Risk: Buying a Policy That Doesn't Cover Much

Trudy Lieberman | December 2, 2010

My friend Ariane Canas, a New York City hairdresser, was eager to tell me about a new health insurance policy she had come across. It was cheap very cheap as such coverage goes. I knew that she and her husband, who is also self-employed, had gotten a notice this fall from their current carrier advising of a 33 percent rate increase.

More Can Also Be Less: We Need a More Complete Public Discussion about Comparative Effectiveness

Jessie Gruman | December 1, 2010

Media coverage of the government's new investment in comparative effectiveness research leans heavily toward the effects of such research on new drugs and technologies: Will such evaluations lead to restricted access to the latest innovations? Will insurance no longer cover a drug that might give my aunt another year to live? Will such research hinder the development of a drug that could cure my nephew of type 1 diabetes?

Conversation Continues: Physicians and Their Relationships with Pharmas

CFAH Staff | December 1, 2010

Gary Switzer's post on the Health News Review blog reminds us once again of potential conflicts between physician/pharma and consumer interests.