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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1st Person: Acute Pain: Sudden Impact

First Person | December 30, 2011

Dr. Jan Adams has had more than her share of painful experiences. A retired general practitioner and mother of two who practiced 'womb-to-tomb' medicine, she conducted humanitarian work around the world, notably with medical clown Patch Adams (no relation).

Prepared Patient: Getting the Right Help for Acute Pain

Health Behavior News Service | December 30, 2011

Whether caused by injury, surgery or a toothache so bad it slams you awake in the middle of the night, acute pain is difficult. Receiving prompt and helpful treatment can make all the difference in the world. But lack of care or inadequate care means that the acute pain may develop into chronic agony.

1st Person: Pain: a Constant Companion

First Person | December 29, 2011

Teresa Shaffer has suffered from chronic pain from degenerative joint disease since she underwent six months of bedrest during her third pregnancy.

Prepared Patient: When Pain Doesn't End

Health Behavior News Service | December 29, 2011

At 24, Teresa Shaffer, began a decades-long journey through chronic pain, eventually receiving a diagnosis of degenerative joint disease. Although she was wheelchair-bound at one point, today, at 47, through water therapy, medication, exercise, counseling and perseverance, Shaffer is able to walk on her own and manage her pain as well as serving as an advocate for other pain patients. Kelly Young has suffered constant pain from her rheumatoid arthritis for the last five years. A mother of five, 46-year-old Young copes with her illness with a mix of medications, grit and advocacy work.

1st Person: Cancer Diagnosis Can't Squash His Spirit

First Person | December 28, 2011

Twelve years ago, Syd Ball's local urologist told him that prostate-removal surgery and radiation therapy were his only options to treat his early stage prostate cancer. After a second opinion from a urologic oncologist at Johns Hopkins University, Syd participated in active surveillance to avoid the serious side effects associated with treating prostate cancer.

1st Person: After Years of Treatment, a Time to Wait

First Person | December 28, 2011

For many freshmen, the first year of college is devoted to classes, work and socializing, with little thought given to health or longevity. But for Nikkie Hartmann, a Chicago-based public relations professional, the start of her college career also marked the start of 14 years of dealing with cancer.

Prepared Patient: Watchful Waiting: When Treatment Can Wait

Health Behavior News Service | December 28, 2011

In today's fast-paced world, waiting ' whether it's at the doctor's office, in line at the grocery store or for an Internet connection ' is rarely considered a good thing. But when it comes to certain medical conditions, delaying treatment while regularly monitoring the progress of disease ' a strategy doctors refer to as 'watchful waiting,' active surveillance or expectant management ' may benefit some patients more than a rush to pharmaceutical or surgical options.

1st Person: At 98, Bob Stewart Would Rather Be Dancing

First Person | December 27, 2011

Bob Stewart, who will turn 99 this May, began taking supplements in 2000, when he was in his late 80s. The retired podiatrist is also a strong believer in keeping active. He takes exercise classes at least three times a week and participates in numerous community activities, including a local men's chorus.

Prepared Patient: Vitamins & Supplements: Before You Dive In

Health Behavior News Service | December 27, 2011

At 98 years old, Bob Stewart swears by his dietary supplements as a secret to successful aging. He takes flaxseed and apple cider vinegar pills, along with a Japanese supplement called nattokinase. He has never had a 'bad experience' or side effects, he says. But Betsy McMillan, an Ohio writer, describes her overdose from a vitamin B complex supplement. After a few weeks of taking it'in which she never exceeded the dose recommended on the bottle'her liver began to swell and she was overwhelmed by fatigue. It turned out that the pills contained potentially fatal levels of niacin.

1st Person: Hospice, My Husband and Me

First Person | December 26, 2011

As Jerome Rafferty, diagnosed with a progressive form of dementia and an incurable, antibiotic-resistant infection, became more ill, his wife, Renata Rafferty, used hospice services at home initially to assist her in caring for him.

Prepared Patient: Hospice Care: What Is It, Anyway?

Health Behavior News Service | December 26, 2011

Three a.m. can be a lonely time for caregivers. But when Renata Rafferty's husband Jerome struggled to breathe late one night, she knew she wasn't completely alone. Though it was the middle of the night when Renata called, the on-call nurse at their hospice responded immediately: arranging medical equipment and a nurse to check on Jerome. Now, months after Jerome's death, Renata says hospice 'is not the place you go to die, it's the place you go to celebrate and finish your life, in an environment where that is the sole and only focus.'

Prepared Patient: Side Effects: When Silence Isn't Golden

Health Behavior News Service | December 23, 2011

'I had a wonderful gentleman patient who had resistant blood pressure,' recalls Vicki Koenig, M.D., a retired family doctor in Exmore, VA. 'When he came for a blood pressure check on the latest new med and it was great, I was ecstatic. Then he said, 'But I notice my urine's a little dark.' His was one of the first cases of fatal liver complications from this medication.' Medication side effects are common'but when should you speak up?

Prepared Patient: In Case of Emergency: Who's Who in the ER

Health Behavior News Service | December 22, 2011

While commuting to work in September 2009, Ashley Finley stopped her bike short to avoid a pedestrian ' and flew over the handlebars, hitting her head on the pavement. Her chin gushing blood and with concerns about head injury, Ashley and her partner, Goldie Pyka*, immediately headed to an ER. Though their wait time in the Washington, D.C., emergency room was minimal, Pyka says she felt surprised by the number of people who participated in Ashley's care. 'I was expecting to see one person, tell them what happened and have that person help. I wasn't expecting to interact with that many people and to not really be told who they were and what they were there for. I felt we were very passive in the whole experience,' Pyka says.

Book Review: Dissecting American Health Care: Commentaries on Health Policy and Politics

Jessie Gruman | December 21, 2011

My friend and former Chair of the CFAH Board of Trustees, Doug Kamerow, has written a book that I think you will like. His compilation of essays is wonderful if you have a mild interest in health policy and is important for public health students. It's also a fun read for those of us who spend our days working on the issues Doug highlights.

Beyond Moodiness: Dangers of Adolescent Depression

Conversation Continues | December 20, 2011

Several recent studies reveal that the causes of depression in children are many, and its outward manifestation in teens often goes beyond recognizable symptoms of sadness and lethargy.

Who Accesses Health Care, and How?

Inside Health Care | December 19, 2011

All kinds of people seek out health care, but studies show that not everyone accesses and receives care in the same way. Here, health care insiders look at how access varies among women, children and those with disabilities.

Who Gets Preventive Care?

Trudy Lieberman | December 19, 2011

Who doesn't think preventive health care is important? Probably nobody if you ask this question abstractly. But when it comes to getting it - well that's a different matter.

1st Person: My Post-Op Problems Were Brushed Aside

First Person | December 15, 2011

Instead of enjoying a full recovery, Herminia Briones experienced distressing new symptoms the year following her knee-replacement surgery.

Prepared Patient: Reducing Your Risk of Medical Errors

Health Behavior News Service | December 15, 2011

Recovering from a knee replacement is difficult under the best of circumstances, but for Herminia Briones, the year following her surgery was filled with unexpected pain, complications and confusion. Her repeated attempts to draw attention to her problems went unheeded, beginning an unfortunate and not uncommon struggle with medical error. Why do medical errors happen and how can you help protect yourself from harm?

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Jessie Gruman | December 14, 2011

That old Tom Petty song, 'The Waiting is the Hardest Part,' keeps running through my mind. Four of my friends are waiting to hear the results of medical tests taken last week.

A Patient-Doctor Relationship Make-Over

Conversation Continues | December 13, 2011

There is a growing recognition that the doctor-patient relationship needs to evolve from the traditional model of dominant doctor/passive patient to one that is more collaborative. Here are examples of how this relationship affects people's involvement in their care.

Guest Blog: Terms of Engagement: Co-Creating Our Future with Patients

Gary Oftedahl | December 12, 2011

Today, physicians are confronted with an explosion of new technology, increasingly complex interventions, and an evolving focus on the need for longitudinal support of health issues, requiring increased involvement of our patients. While we may use different terms'engagement, involvement, empowerment, activation'in our discussions, all of them speak to the need to have active participation from patients and, in many cases, their family and other caregivers.

Guest Blog: A Near Miss. A Good Pharmacist. A Serious Lesson.

Herb Wells | December 8, 2011

Last week I went to the family pharmacy I use in New York City to pick up a new anti-arrhythmic drug that might slow down or even stop the atrial fibrillation I had experienced for the previous two weeks. The pharmacist came from behind his privacy wall to speak with me before dispensing the drug.

When Will Grasp Catch Up with Reach? Older People Are Missing the Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring for Chronic Illness

Jessie Gruman | December 7, 2011

Did you know that every nursing home resident in the US must be asked every quarter whether she wants to go home, regardless of her health or mental status? And if she says yes, there is a local agency that must spring into action to make that happen.

Doing Things Right: Why Three Hospitals Didn't Harm My Wife

Michael Millenson | December 6, 2011

My wife was lying in the back of an ambulance, dazed and bloody, while I sat in the front, distraught and distracted. We had been bicycling in a quiet neighborhood in southern Maine when she hit the handbrakes too hard and catapulted over the handlebars, turning our first day of vacation into a race to the nearest hospital.

How People's Stories Support Evidence-Based Care

Kenny Lin | December 5, 2011

I was recently asked how evidence from clinical trials can possibly overcome powerful emotional stories of "saved lives." My answer: evidence-based medicine's supporters must fight anecdotes with anecdotes. Statistics show that, while some are saved, many people are temporarily or permanently injured as a result of screenings/testings - and their stories matter too.

A Thanksgiving Reprise

Patient Perspectives | December 1, 2011

During Thanksgiving week, many patient bloggers shared what they were thankful for. Though there were many ' here are what four of them had to say.