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When patients feel like hostages

22 Jul

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters    July 22, 2018

When his 6-year old son became very ill and was hospitalized, Dan Beckham observed how his own behaviour in the hospital began to dramatically change compared to his real life. Although he would readily send a restaurant meal back if it weren’t properly cooked, now when his son received poor care (e.g. a healthcare professional who did not wash his hands), Dan hesitated to be assertive “for fear of alienating the physicians and nurses whose goodwill he needed to maintain.” Here’s how he explained this:

“I felt dependent and powerless, as if my son was a hostage to the care he received and the system that delivered it. It was as though I was compelled to negotiate for his safe release from potential harm.”

Such a reaction is an example of what’s known as Hostage Bargaining Syndrome (HBS), as described in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.(1)  Continue reading

Dr. Martha Gulati’s fabulous foreword to my book

24 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas   @HeartSisters  ♥  June 24, 2018

Dr. Martha Gulati

When you open a non-fiction book, you’ll likely find a section called the foreword, written by somebody who is not the book’s author. It addresses a reader’s questions about the book: Why is the author of this book particularly qualified to write it? What will I gain or learn by reading this book?

The Chicago Manual of Style writing guide describes a foreword as “written by someone eminent to lend credibility to the book”. 

I needed to find someone eminent (definition: famous, respected, important) to agree to write the foreword for A Woman’s Guide to Living With Heart Disease because, unlike other heart books out there written by cardiologists, my heart book was written by a heart patient with zero medical training. To many, that translates as zero credibility. Continue reading

When you’re about to become a hospital patient

17 Jun
A guest post by Karen Friedman MD and Sara Merwin MPH, authors of The Informed Patient: A Complete Guide to a Hospital Stay (Cornell University Press).

Linda was having a busy day: 9 to 5 at the office, and now grocery shopping. But she wasn’t feeling right. She was a little warm and dizzy and felt heart palpitations. She finished shopping and hurried home because she knew something was wrong. But what had her doctor told her? Chew an aspirin if she ever had heart attack symptoms.* Call 911. Linda wasn’t taking any chances: too many people depended on her. She called a friend to meet her in Emergency, grabbed her pill bottles and her printed medical history, and stuck them in her purse.

Linda is savvy. She had symptoms that could have been confused with any number of things, but she made a series of wise decisions: she followed her doctor’s advice, called a friend to help out, and went to the hospital armed with her important records.
Continue reading

Do you need a robot to help with your hospital gown?

3 Jun

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters   June 3, 2018

hospital Here at Heart Sisters World Headquarters, yet another academic news release has crossed my desk, bursting with life-changing hype. This one is about hospitalized patients, especially those who are too ill or too weak to put on their own attractive hospital gowns.

The news from the Georgia Institute of Technology says that a million of us need daily assistance in getting dressed because of “injury, disease and advanced age.” What we need when we are admitted to hospital, apparently, is a robot to help us get dressed! (What we actually need, Georgia Tech, is to replace those hideous hospital gowns with what’s known as adaptive clothing, along with adequate healthcare staffing levels). Continue reading

Post-hospital syndrome, revisited

22 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters      April 22, 2018

What does jet lag have in common with being discharged home following a hospital stay? After Yale cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz returned from an overseas trip suffering from a particularly bad case of jet lag, he described the similarities like this:

“People were talking to me, but I couldn’t concentrate. I was a little clumsy. I could have fallen. I realized that I felt just like my hospital patients do when they go home.”

He recognized that many hospital stays can actually confer jet lag-type disabilities. In his article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Krumholz dubbed this post-hospital discharge distress post-hospital syndrome. (1)
Continue reading