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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Preventing Medical Harm: Alyssa's Story

David Mayer | May 29, 2014

Carole Hemmelgarn is a hero. In the video that follows, Carole poignantly shares her daughter Alyssa's story, and why their family's loss has been the driving force behind the change Carole is fighting for: the delivery of safer care for all patients and families...

Caring for the Whole Patient

Carolyn Thomas | May 27, 2014

When I was discharged from the intensive care unit in cardiology, not one of the nurses, residents or cardiologists asked if I'd be able to afford the fistful of expensive new cardiac meds I'd been prescribed. Not one asked if there was anybody at home to help take care of me there, or if there was anybody at home who needed me to take care of them. Not one asked if I'd be returning to a high-stress job, or even if I had enough banked sick time or vacation days to take sufficient time off. Such real-life issues are simply not the concern of most of our health care providers...

Getting Good Care: 'I Wish It Were More Newsworthy. I'm Afraid It's Not.'

Jessie Gruman | May 21, 2014

Unfortunately, the nitty gritty of getting good care is not really newsworthy, unless we're talking about how poor it is. However, there are opportunities for journalists and writers to report "news you can use" that would be very helpful to many people, and there is a big gap in reporting on most of these necessary tasks...

When Your Partner Resists Your Health Care Advice

Barbara Kivowitz | May 20, 2014

As a very stubborn and advice-resisting ill partner myself, I can't say if this issue is gender-specific. But I do know it's an issue most couples dealing with illness face, more than once. Here are my two suggestions for what to do when your partner resists your advice...

A Doctor's Strategies Helped Mom Pay for Meds

Narine Wandrey | May 19, 2014

Bewildered, panicked and disheartened, I watched my mother's eyes dart back and forth as she read the pharmacy's prescription cash price list, knowing she could not possibly afford her monthly medicines. We drove home, not saying a word, but I knew she was deeply distraught. When we arrived, she began cutting each tiny elliptical or rounded tablet into halves and quarters...

Pendulum Swings Between Personalized Care and Fixes That Benefit All

Jessie Gruman | May 14, 2014

"All patients are alike. This one complains about the same things that the last one did." "Every patient is unique. We can never find a way to make each one of them happy." This public health paradox is alive and well today, particularly when trying to improve outcomes attributable to patient engagement. The question is, what aspects of care need to be customized to individual needs and what can be delivered in a standardized fashion to all of us?

So Much Incorrect Health Information Online

CFAH Staff | May 13, 2014

How do we know which search results are true and which ones aren't? While you can find high-quality health information online, search results related to nutrition, fitness and preventive health vary widely in quality. And the actions we take (or don't take) as a result of the information we find can be hazardous...

How Much Is a Patient's Peace of Mind Worth?

Anne Polta | May 12, 2014

If something is medically useless, does it still have value if it gives the patient (and perhaps the clinician as well) some peace of mind? To many patients, this is no small thing. Unfortunately, it's also often abetted by consumer marketing that plays up the peace-of-mind aspect of certain tests while remaining silent about the limited benefit, the possible risk and the clinical complexity that may be part of the larger picture...

What Is Dignity and Does It Matter to Patients?

Jessie Gruman | May 7, 2014

At a recent conference about patient engagement in health care, the word "dignity" was used over 50 times in the first 90 minutes, and I was left with a little pile of meaningless sound where I had expected to find something important. Since then, I have been on hyper-alert for "dignity"...

Who Needs a Doctor These Days?

Trudy Lieberman | May 6, 2014

Are insurance companies making more decisions about the health care you receive? I received a letter from Aetna, my Medicare supplement insurance carrier, advertising a pitch for getting "started on a healthier lifestyle." "Because of your health history, we think you might benefit from joining our program," the letter read. Annoyed, I called the insurer...

Medication Cocktails: Not Every Mix Is Safe

CFAH Staff | May 5, 2014

One in every five older Americans takes medications that work against each other. And some interactions between prescription drugs and supplements can pose dangerous health risks. So what must we do to make sure that we benefit from the drugs we take?