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Patient Advocates: Flies In The Ointment Of Evidence-Based Care

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 18, 2011 | Jessie Gruman

The women recounted how their lives had been saved as they pleaded for the Food and Drug Administration not to withdraw approval for Avastin as a treatment for advanced breast cancer. They did so even without evidence that it provides benefit and with evidence that it confers risks.

1st Person: I Think So Too

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 19, 2011 | First Person

Breast cancer survivor, Lisa Bonchek Adams, blogs about life-changing events including a cancer diagnosis, the sudden death of a family member, and having a child with medical challenges. She combines medical, psychological, and sociological viewpoints to these and other topics. You can read this post and follow her at LisaBAdams.com.

NBC Urges Women >40 to Ask About CRP Test

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 19, 2011 | Gary Schwitzer

After seeing the NBC Nightly News last night, a physician urged me to write about what he saw: a story about a "simple blood test that could save women's lives." Readers - and maybe especially TV viewers - beware whenever you hear a story about "a simple blood test."

Guest Blog: Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer Clamor for a Different Awareness Level

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 4, 2011 | Gary Schwitzer

October is breast cancer awareness month. But October 13th is National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) argue that "awareness" should not be the only message ' or even the main message'of the month. Here are 13 facts they think you should know...

Pink Ribbons, Mixed Emotions

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 18, 2011 | Patient Perspectives

October is national Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and recently, breast cancer patients and survivors alike have shared their (sometimes disparate) thoughts and feelings about these four weeks.

Guest Blog: On Alcohol and Breast Cancer, Guilt, Correlations, Fun, Moderation, Doctors' Habits, Advice and Herbal Tea

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 11, 2011 | Elaine Schattner

Few breast cancer news items irk some women I know more than those linking alcohol consumption to the disease.

How Much Does it Cost to Have a Baby?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 24, 2012 | Kenny Lin

My wife and I are expecting our third child, and our new insurance plan requires us to pay 20% coinsurance for all non-preventive care. Given the rapid rate of health care inflation, we thought it prudent to find out how much it would cost this time around. So, we asked for an estimate of the charges. It seemed like a reasonable enough request'

Comparative Effectiveness Research: Judy Norsigian of Our Bodies Ourselves

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 19, 2012 | Judy Norsigian

Judy Norsigian is one of the founders of Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS), a nonprofit public interest organization practicing women's health education, advocacy and consulting, and has served as its executive director since 2001. This is the second in a series of interviews with patient and consumer group leaders about their experiences with and attitudes toward comparative effectiveness research.

When You Really Learn about Hospital Infections

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 13, 2012 | Trudy Lieberman

One of the greatest risks I faced from surgery to repair a macular hole in my eye was from a hospital acquired infection. But when I tried to find data on the performance of various hospitals in New York City, there were no ratings for Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat where I would have my surgery.

Time’s “How to Cure Cancer” Cover – Worst of the Year?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 20, 2013 | Gary Schwitzer

That’s what journalist Seth Mnookin writes on Slate, stating, further, that it is “wrong, grandiose, and cruel.” He writes, “I haven’t found a single cancer researcher who believes this means we’re on the verge of curing cancer.”

The Tightrope of Chronic Illness

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 8, 2013 | Danea Horn

In the most recent newsletter, I talked about wanting to trade bodies with someone...just for one day. This way they could tell you just how freaked you should be about the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 9, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

This week in health news: When dieting encouragement goes wrong | What works for more walking at work | Vaccines: Not just for babies | Health insurance matters for cancer survivors

I Wish I Had Known Earlier...If Your Oncology Team Doesn’t Mention the Topic of Fertility, Then You Should Bring It Up Yourself

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 20, 2013 | Marie Ennis OConnor

I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34. When I brought up the topic of fertility with my oncologist, I was presented with a stark choice between life-saving treatment or a chance at becoming a mother.

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 30, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

This week in health news: For teens, fighting is bad for the brain | Skeptical elderly turn to home remedies | Bedwetting treatments offer help | Green light for eating and drinking during labor

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 20, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

In this weeks health news: Group exercise alleviates college stress | Maintain your weight in a matter of minutes | Education may be the key to fighting obesity | Men who binge at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Five Years Later: Zigzagging Toward Acceptance

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 8, 2013 | Kathi Kolb

"Your biopsy is positive." None of us ever forgets when we first heard some version of that phrase. I heard it five years ago today...

Latest Health Behavior News

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 11, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

In this week's health news: Patient-doctor relationship affects diabetes care | Women in Appalachia at risk for late stage breast cancer | People with asthma need not fear exercise | Treating depression helps some smokers quit...

The Hard-Hitting Truth About Sports Concussions

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 11, 2013 | Conversation Continues

Final scores, rankings and rivalries aren't the only fall football traditions getting news coverage this season. Rates, effects and what to do about concussions are in the spotlight too.

The Costs of Being a Patient and a Doctor

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 19, 2013 | Jane Liu

My ultrasound came back "likely benign" with the recommendation that I follow up in six weeks to be sure. Over the next few weeks, I received one bill after another that totaled $1,000. Unable to pay, I felt abandoned by the system to which I had committed my career and did not call to schedule a second ultrasound...

Healthy Eating...Help!

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 27, 2013 | CFAH Staff

It isn't breaking news that exercising and eating a healthy diet can help improve your overall health and fitness, but that doesn't make it any easier for most of us to follow suit. These resources from CFAH's 'Be a Prepared Patient' can help...

Color Us Stressed – How to Deal

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 2, 2013 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

Coast-to-coast, stress is the norm for most Americans: 55 percent of people feel stressed in everyday life, and far more women feel the stress than men do. It will take a village to help manage stress, including but not limited to our doctors.

Seven Things I Wish I'd Known Earlier About Cancer Survivorship

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 4, 2013 | Jessie Gruman

It is challenging, in the years following a cancer diagnosis, to assemble health care that protects us from the lingering effects of the disease and its treatment and that alerts us to a recurrence or new cancer. I hope these reflections will help those who've been diagnosed with cancer live as long and as well as they can...

Wellness at Work

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 5, 2013 | Health Behavior News Service

Is your company one of the many that are now offering "wellness programs"? Our latest Be a Prepared Patient article, Staying Well at Work, looks at a few of these programs in action and offers tips for maintaining a healthy work/life balance...

A Better Health System for Frail and Disabled Elders

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 9, 2013 | Ken Covinsky

Let's stop telling the public that exercising and eating blueberries are guarantees for avoiding frailty and disability. Let's start talking about how to maintain our quality of life as we age and inevitably encounter health problems.

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 5): Do You Need a Yearly Checkup?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 30, 2013 | Be a Prepared Patient

In part five of our series, we look at the yearly check-up and offer resources for people who are trying to decide which preventive care services are right for them...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 6): 10 Steps to Making a Doctor's Appointment

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | December 31, 2013 | Be a Prepared Patient

In part six of our series, you'll find out what key pieces of information you need to know about your new doctor's office. Keep it handy with your personal health records or household files...

Advice for People New to Health Insurance (Part 8): Who's Who In Your Doctor's Office

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 2, 2014 | Be a Prepared Patient

In the eighth and final part of our series, we explain who the various people are in your doctor's office, from nurse practitioners to lab technicians. Knowing their different roles can make your visit go more smoothly...

What Does It Take to Get 'Better Living Through Medications' These Days?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 15, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

Lately, the public's faith in the safety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs has been making me uneasy. Why do so many of us continue to purchase pills that are not effective in causing weight loss, swallow syrups that promise to cure diabetes, and fiddle with our medication-taking regimens?...

NBC Vastly Exaggerates the Potential Benefits of Lung Cancer Screening

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 16, 2014 | Gary Schwitzer

When we talk about a consistently clear pattern of news stories that exaggerate or emphasize benefits while minimizing or ignoring harms, we are talking about stories exactly like this one...

Sticking With Resolutions Is All About Preparation

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | January 27, 2014 | David L. Katz

Relevant research and conventional wisdom alike suggest that, despite their irresistible perennial tug on our collective conscience, New Year's resolutions generally have about the staying power of Champagne bubbles. In contrast, the science of sustainable behavior change tips convincingly toward "don't go until ready."

Is Your Doctor Paying Attention?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 13, 2014 | Carolyn Thomas

The $800 bottle of meds in my bathroom cabinet is a powerfully expensive reminder of my (former) family physician's lapse in attention – and my own lapse in catching her error. She'd somehow accidentally doubled both the dosage and the number of times per day to take these meds. How is this even possible? Somebody is not paying attention...

Getting Help for Depression

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 20, 2014 | Be a Prepared Patient

Depression affects nearly one in ten Americans yet many people often go untreated. In fact, a recent study found that 70 percent of people surveyed with symptoms of depression received no treatment of any kind. Here's advice on how to get help...

Confessions of a Non-Compliant Patient

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | February 24, 2014 | Carolyn Thomas

Most days, I have learned to function pretty well. But take a few unexpected health challenges, no matter how minor they may seem to others, arriving at the same time and piled onto an already-full plate and you have an explosion of overwhelm that looms larger than the average healthy person could even imagine. I've become a non-compliant patient...

The Other 'F' Word

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 6, 2014 | Jackie Fox

At my six-month checkup yesterday all was routine, other than my blood pressure being 131 over something when it's usually in the 115 range. Ten years ago I wouldn't have shared my fears at all, but thanks to early-stage breast cancer it's hard for my mind not to immediately go to the worst-case scenario...

Is a Daily Dose of Many Pills in Your Future?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | March 17, 2014 | Andrew Schorr

I recently had breakfast with an aging cousin, Walter, who has become infirm in his senior years. I knew he had several doctors and took medicine. It wasn't until breakfast time, however, that I realized how many medicines Walter took – and I was bowled over...

'Everybody Has Plans 'Til They Get Punched in the Mouth'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 1, 2014 | Carolyn Thomas

In boxing terms, this is completely literal, sound advice. As a figurative metaphor for illness, it's not bad, either. Because no matter how competent, how smart, how resourceful we may think we are before a catastrophic health crisis strikes, many of us may suddenly feel incompetent, ignorant and helpless when thrust inexplicably into the stress of such formidable reality...

Shared Decision Making: Blending Beliefs and Attitudes With Evidence

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 7, 2014 | Don S. Dizon

My patient, Mary, was a 28-year-old woman who had completed chemotherapy for stage II breast cancer. After discussing surveillance, frequency of follow-up and ASCO guidelines, I recommended against further testing or imaging. Mary was well aware of the evidence, but she had different plans...

My Partner, My Memory

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | April 15, 2014 | Barbara Kivowitz

I don't know if it's growing older, or New England winters, or the meds I take, or watching Homeland and Downton Abbey in the same week – but my memory isn't as crisp as it used to be. My partner, Richard, has become part of my cerebral cortex...

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...

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

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 12, 2014 | Anne Polta

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...

A Doctor's Strategies Helped Mom Pay for Meds

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 19, 2014 | Narine Wandrey

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...

Caring for the Whole Patient

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | May 27, 2014 | Carolyn Thomas

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...

Cancer Screening: Understanding 'Relative Risk'

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 3, 2014 | Kenny Lin

I have offered before a few reasons for eligible patients to consider not getting screened for lung cancer. I concede, however, that reasonable people might conclude that the potential harms are outweighed by the benefit of reducing one's risk of dying by one-fifth. The next critical question that needs to be asked is: one-fifth of what?

Don't Forget the Hefty Price We Pay to Engage in Health

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 12, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

Media-fueled flip-flops and research breakthroughs on lifestyle and health behaviors are wearing down my usual patience with the provisional nature of science. Even simple dietary recommendations like lower fat/salt recommendations have become complicated as old truisms are overturned by new evidence. So I'm asking: To whom should I turn for meaningful guidance about modifying my risk for illness and boosting my health?

Not So Easy to Stop Care When the Patient Is a Loved One

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 16, 2014 | Margaret Polaneczky

To those of us who have had a loved one succumb to cancer, who had to negotiate the frightening choice between the rock and the hard place, always holding out hope for another round of chemo...we know that reining in health care costs will mean more than just raising co-pays and lowering drug costs and funding more effective interventions. It will also mean quashing hope. And learning to tell ourselves the truth...

Don't Let the Sun Shine Down on Me (It's Too Complicated!)

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | June 18, 2014 | Jessie Gruman

I'm impressed by how much we struggle with seemingly simple health decisions when faced with sorting through too much information. Every week we view diverse arrays of products with health, convenience and cosmetic claims competing for our attention. Think yogurt, Gatorade, running shoes, breakfast cereal...Given the ubiquity of such products and the swirl of marketing and science- or non-science-based information surrounding each, I'm wondering three things...

When Does a Patient Need to Be Seen?

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 28, 2014 | Anne Polta

You need a refill for a prescription that's about to run out. You've taken the medication for years without any problems and can't think of any reason why the prescription can't just be automatically continued. But the doctor won't order a refill unless you make an appointment and come in to be seen. Is this an unfair burden on the patient or due diligence by the doctor?...

Facing a Serious Diagnosis? 'AfterShock' Now an App

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | July 31, 2014 | CFAH Staff

Receiving bad health news can spark great upheaval. It is a time when nothing is certain and the future looks dark. The new, free app 'AfterShock: Facing a Serious Diagnosis' offers a basic roadmap through the first few days and weeks, providing concise information and trusted resources to help you regain a bit of control during this turbulent time...

Why I Fired My Doctor and What You Should Look for in Yours

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | August 25, 2014 | Donna Cryer

My new doctor and I clashed in every way. The short story is that I found another doctor who was a better fit for my "patient style." So what can you learn from my experience? First off, here are two questions you should ask yourself...

Stress Is US

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 8, 2014 | Jane Sarasohn Kahn

"Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it," Lily Tomlin once quipped. So it's no surprise, then, that one-half of the people in the U.S. have had a major stressful event or experience in the last year. And health tops the list...

Another Strategy in the Health Care Reimbursement Game

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | September 17, 2014 | Trudy Lieberman

American health care has become a gigantic game board with players of all sorts strategizing to win. Winning, of course, means getting more money from payers...

Have You SEEN Your Options? Patients Should Make Safe, Effective, Economical, Necessary Choices

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | October 2, 2014 | Wendy Lynch

My friend Jane is quite a perfectionist, at least usually. I was almost certain that if she was having work done on her kitchen, she would be getting competitive bids, asking for references and reviewing vendors. But not for her shoulder surgery. Perhaps we need a concise mantra for what it means to be a health care consumer...

Taking an Active Role in Your Recovery

PREPARED PATIENT BLOG | November 12, 2014 | Alexandra Rosas

I was once someone who never felt that I'd be normal again. But recovery is made up of small steps that lead us to a successful life – these steps toward wellness matter, because being active versus passive about your recovery greatly increases the likelihood of a positive outcome...