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Asking Patients to Advocate for Their Own Safety Is Not Very Patient-Centered

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 24, 2014 | Marc-David Munk

Imagine, for a moment, if we expected passengers to "have a dialogue" with airline pilots prior to a flight. Is this something we'd consider admirably "passenger-centered?" What about "patient empowerment" materials which ask patients to confront caregivers who don't wash their hands? It's a bad turn of events when we ask patients to ask providers to avoid dirty hands and unnecessary care...

Medical Errors: Will We Act Up, Fight Back?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 22, 2014 | Center for Advancing Health

A new report, "The Politics of Patient Harm: Medical Error and the Safest Congressional Districts," is an alarming reminder that the 200,000 or more preventable medical errors in U.S. hospitals remain stubbornly high and dangerously under-addressed. In early 2013, CFAH's founder and president, the late Jessie Gruman, challenged readers about the crisis: "It is needlessly killing a lot of people and those who have the responsibility to stop it have not made meaningful progress... Are you outraged? If not, why?"...

Teens World-Wide Self-Medicate With Over-the-Counter and Prescription Drugs

HBNS STORY | September 23, 2014

Adolescents around the world are frequently using over-the-counter and prescription medications without a doctor’s order, a risky practice that can lead to overuse and abuse and is often continued into adulthood, reveals a new review in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

A Preventable Medical Error Hits Home

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 16, 2014 | Darla Dernovsek

My 77-year-old parents were recently impacted by a medical error. The good news is that the story ends happily. The bad news is that it could have been averted simply by checking the date on lab tests...

Elderly Who Have Had Serious Falls May Show Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress

HBNS STORY | September 11, 2014

Older adults who experience a serious fall may develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the days following the event, finds a study published in General Hospital Psychiatry.

How to Prevent Hospital-Acquired Infections

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 21, 2014 | Bonnie Friedman

We go to the hospital to get better, right? But it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes patients become sicker, not because their illnesses are untreatable, but because deadly bugs can overtake a hospital's ecosystem and wreak havoc, especially among the most ill. Not long ago, this happened to my husband...

Stop the War on the Emergency Room (Fix the System Failure)

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 8, 2014 | Nick Dawson

The ED is convenient, it's open 24 hours, it does not require an appointment. So when the stomach bug or kitchen accident gets the best of you at 9:00 pm, and your doctor's office is closed, where are you going to go? And, yet, we still chide people – via reporting, casual comments and the communication of health systems – for using the ED for "non-emergent" needs. What I'd like to see is more hospitals flinging open the doors of their EDs and saying, "We'll take you, any time, for any reason, and you won't wait long or pay an arm and a leg"...

What Would Mom Want?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 23, 2014 | Michael Wasserman

We've watched it many times on television or in a movie: The patient lies in the intensive care unit, gravely ill, with the family at the bedside. The doctor walks into the room and asks, "What do you want us to do?" and opens up a huge can of worms that is, in fact, ethically incorrect. The first priority that a physician has is to their patient...

Ask Questions Before Surgery. You May Save Your Own Life.

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 9, 2014 | Heather Thiessen

I am wheeled into the operating room and walked to the bed. As I get to the table I am so cold and nervous, I begin to shake. I lay down on the operating table, thinking it seems very narrow and hoping I don't fall off. I hear one of the nurses say, "We have the Heparin ready for the new port." I freeze. I lift my head and say, "I'm allergic to Heparin." The anesthesia I've been given kicks in at that point and I drift off to sleep, hoping things go all right...

Preventing Medical Harm: Alyssa's Story

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 29, 2014 | David Mayer

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...

When an Advocate Becomes a Patient

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 28, 2014 | Bonnie Friedman

A recent clumsy mishap at the gym landed me in the emergency department. Lying in the hall, feeling hapless and helpless, I was in no position to make any important health decisions, had they been needed, or to remember anything important that might have been said. Later, I understood on a deeply personal level the need for a patient advocate...

When a Loved One Is Hospitalized

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 24, 2014 | Bonnie Friedman

My husband has been in the hospital 14 times over the past 24 years. What I've learned is that my role as advocate is just as important to his recovery as the roles of doctors and the nurses. You may not have a medical degree, but you have intelligence and instincts...

Gap in Life Expectancy Between Rural and Urban Residents Is Growing

HBNS STORY | January 23, 2014

A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that rural residents have experienced smaller gains in life expectancy than their urban counterparts and the gap continues to grow.

Should Patients Be Responsible for Physician Hand-Washing?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 26, 2013 | David Williams

For the past few years I’ve heard suggestions that patients should take a more active role in their health care by asking doctors to wash their hands. I strongly disagree...

Teens with Fighting Injuries Have Declines in IQ

HBNS STORY | August 13, 2013

Teenagers who have been seriously injured in a fight show a reduction in intelligence and cognitive ability, according to a large study in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Patients Are Waiting to Partner: Invite Them to Participate

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 30, 2013 | Tracy Granzyk

In a recent Baltimore Sun piece, healthcare writer Marie McCarren wrote an op-ed providing “A prescription for fewer medical errors” — reflections from an emergency room visit with her husband that later turned into a stay on the intensive care unit. McCarren emphasized the need for healthcare providers to work at clearly communicating the ways in which family members of patients can help make care safer.

Choosing Hospitals Wisely (Is There Such a Thing?)

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 11, 2013 | Leana Wen

Here’s a thought experiment presented a recent conference on healthcare consumer (ah hem, patient) advocacy. Let’s say that you’re told you need surgery of your knee. It’s an elective surgery to repair a torn knee ligament, the ACL. Your insurance covers part, but not all, of the cost. How do you choose which hospital to go to?

I Couldn’t Do It. Could You?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 27, 2013 | Susan Shaw

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t ask the nurses and doctor who looked after my daughter to wash their hands.

Semper Paratus: Our Decisions About Emergency Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 12, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

Sometimes it is clear that the only response to a health crisis is to call 911 and head for the emergency department. But so many times the course of action is less obvious while the demand for some action is urgent.

Predominately Black Hospitals Provide Poor Trauma Care

HBNS STORY | May 16, 2013

Victims of trauma are at higher risk of either dying or suffering a major complication if they are treated at a hospital that serves a large population of black patients, finds a large new study in Health Services Research.

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Jennifer Dingman, Founder of PULSE

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 20, 2013 | Jennifer Dingman

I got involved in patient safety many years ago after I lost my mom in early 1995 due to medical errors. While my mom was in a coma for seven weeks, I met other families in ICU. Many of them – the majority – had unanswered questions.

Medical Errors: Can Patients and Caregivers Spur Improvement?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 5, 2013 | Conversation Continues

A new report from Minnesota on medical errors shines a light on the fact that their frequency remains stubbornly high. Can patients and caregivers make a difference?

Accidental Poisonings Leading Cause of Deaths at Home

HBNS STORY | February 5, 2013

An increasing number of people die from unintentional home injury, in large part due to accidental drug overdose, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

How Do You Tell Your Employer That You Are Sick?

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Organize Your Health Care

If you expect to miss work due to your or a loved one’s illness, here’s what to tell your employer.

Handling Treatment Side Effects

PREPARED PATIENT RESOURCE | Participate in Your Treatment

Sometimes treatment can produce troubling side effects. Here’s how to recognize them and what to do if you have them.

Medical Errors: Will We Act Up, Fight Back?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 16, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

We've been warned about the impending patient revolution. We will not be ignored. And we'll force meaningful change. After all, as the recent documentary How to Survive a Plague reminds us, the gay community and others mobilized themselves during the AIDS crisis to great effect. The same thing is possible today, right?

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Helen Haskell, Founder of Mothers Against Medical Error

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 15, 2013 | Helen Haskell

Comparative effectiveness research will be transformational if done properly. The critical thing is that it be done without built-in bias.

Depression in Young Adults Linked to Higher Risk of Early Death

HBNS STORY | August 14, 2012

Depression in young adulthood can have long-lasting effects, potentially leading to a higher risk of death even decades later, suggests a new study in the Annals of Epidemiology.

Peer Passengers Are Bad News for Teen Drivers

HBNS STORY | January 24, 2012

Two new studies in the February Journal of Adolescent Health reviewed key factors shown to influence teen driving behaviors: perception of driving risks, parental monitoring and the presence of peer passengers.

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

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 15, 2011 | First Person

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

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 15, 2011 | Health Behavior News Service

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?

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

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 8, 2011 | Herb Wells

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.

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

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 6, 2011 | Michael Millenson

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.

Better Labeling Could Help Thwart Acetaminophen Overdose

HBNS STORY | May 3, 2011

When misused, acetaminophen — marketed as Tylenol — can lead to acute liver failure and worse, often due to accidental overdose by an uninformed consumer. A new small study looks at what’s missing in consumer education and how to overcome those gaps.

Semper Paratus: Our Decisions About Emergency Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 20, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

Nora misjudged the height of the stair outside the restaurant, stepped down too hard, jammed her knee and tore her meniscus. Not that we knew this at the time. All we knew then was that she was howling from the pain. There we were on a dark, empty, wet street in lower Manhattan, not a cab in sight, with a wailing, immobile woman. What to do? Call 911? Find a cab to take her home and contact her primary care doctor for advice? Take her home, put ice on her knee, feed her Advil and call her doctor in the morning?

Inside Health Care: Evidence Patient Safety Improves With a Checklist

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 8, 2011 | CFAH Staff

Checklists are not just for rocket launches. Family doctor, Dr. Davis Liu, Rep. Giffords' trauma surgeon, Dr. Randall Friese, former hospital CEO, Dr. Paul Levy, and a fifth year medical student, Ishani Ganguli, post on the importance of using checklists to promote patient safety. A new British Medical Journal study agrees.

Mechanical Versus Manual CPR—Too Close to Call

HBNS STORY | January 18, 2011

Makers say that mechanical devices perform CPR more effectively than human efforts alone. However, a new review comparing mechanical to manual chest compressions has failed to demonstrate that one is superior to the other.

More on ERs

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 14, 2011 | Conversation Continues

CNN's Empowered Patient also focused on emergency rooms in their January 13th article Don't Die Waiting in the ER .More articles and features in Elizabeth Cohen's Empowered Patient series can be found here.

Are You Medically Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

HBNS STORY | January 11, 2011

How well are the millions of Americans with a disability or chronic disease prepared for a natural disaster like a hurricane or tropical storm?

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

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 7, 2010 | Michael Millenson

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.

Heat Injury Rates on the Rise

HBNS STORY | December 7, 2010

Outdoor exercise and physical activity increase the risk for heat-related injuries, including dangerous heat stroke. Heat injuries are on the rise for all age groups, and football-playing boys are among the most vulnerable.

Contemplating Safety While Lying Down

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 1, 2010 | Jessie Gruman

You have to get out of this hospital it's a dangerous place, each of my physician friends exclaimed when they came to visit me during my recent stay after surgery for stomach cancer.

Schizophrenia Patients Suffer More Hospital Injuries

HBNS STORY | July 23, 2010

Mental Stress Doesn’t Distract Young Drivers at the Wheel

HBNS STORY | May 18, 2010

Sleep-deprived College Students: Asleep at the Wheel

HBNS STORY | March 2, 2010