Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Patient Advocacy

Health is not something we should ever take for granted. I have seen very ill people in my family and in my general surroundings. One thing I truly value is my health, although sometimes it seems very fragile. One lesson I have learned through all of my experiences with health and hospitals is, understand your diagnosis. Understand, not know what the doctor said, but actually understand it. Ask questions until you do, no matter how long it takes, or how many different ways you have to ask the question.

From many medical, social studies it is determined that certain age groups, races and genders are the ones least likely to not only seek health care, but to ask questions and even to seek out a second opinion. Older generations tend to see physicians they have a standing relationship with as the one and only answer. This can really be a death sentence.  Additionally, women tend to be more likely to take care of their families rather than themselves. And finally, minorities are the highest group that will postpone seeing a doctor and therefore potentially receive a life-saving early diagnosis, but compound that with not receiving treatment timely to save their lives. There are of course cultural dynamics that I am not bringing up here, this is more or less the summary of my years of not only personal experience but the research I have gathered through my hobby, patient advocacy.

I implore you as you read this… take your own symptoms seriously and encourage your family members to do the same. Once you get yourself to go to the doctor, ask questions until you understand. If you think you may not be following, ask to reschedule a consultation and take someone with you. I attend my mother’s appointments periodically just to make sure there is a “second ear” in the room. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.  Your physician should NOT mind.  I will recommend this (with a heavy breath), please be sensitive to your appointment time, and if you have many questions that are not immediate to your care, it might be better to schedule a consultation time.  That is not to say walk out of the office not knowing how to take a prescription later that night or what follow-up tests to schedule.  But, if there are dietary changes, or habits then it is probably best to schedule another appointment.

Happy health to all.
Windy City Diva

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