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Don’t take this personally, Doc…

22 May

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

modern-art-1127794_1280 copy Do you remember me telling you the story of my earliest signs of patient empowerment? That story was about the day I decided, at the feisty age of five, to fight back against our family doctor during his house call to our little bungalow on Pleasant Avenue.  My totally out-of-character childhood revolt was launched when I overheard Dr. Zaritsky tell my mother that he’d have to give me a needle to fix what was ailing me – and that he’d have to pull down my pajama bottoms to aim the needle just so into my bare bum. But I was having none of it, as I described here:

“I wept. I screamed. I struggled. I tried to run away from him. I think I may have even punched Dr. Zaritsky right in the stomach – until I finally ended up exhausted, sobbing and humiliated, face-down on the chesterfield, essentially calf-roped into submission by two exasperated adults.

“In hindsight, I’m indeed amazed that I actually somehow found it within my (very sick) little 5-year old spunky self to try to fight off a great big doctor who, in our home, was a man second only to Pope Pius XII in terms of authority and reverence.

To speak or act so disrespectfully to the wonderful Dr. Zaritsky – or to any physician – would have been inexcusably bad behaviour in my family. But meanwhile, in a foreign country far, far away from Pleasant Avenue (i.e. in the United States of America), the stirrings of an even bigger patient revolution were simmering.  Continue reading

Why doctors say ‘Yes!’ when they really mean ‘No!’

17 Apr

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

San Francisco physician Dr. Rahul Parikh wondered in a Salon column why some doctors have such a hard time saying the word “NO!” to their patients. For example:

“I periodically get requests from parents to prescribe cough medicine for their child that contains codeine. Besides the codeine, the drug contains alcohol, naturally leading to a better night’s sleep for child and, hence, the exhausted parent.

“But there’s no evidence that this cough medicine helps the child get better any faster, and it may even be dangerous.

“Should I prescribe it or not? The evidence says no, but to say that can lead to a confrontation with an angry parent.”   Continue reading

Hysterical female? Just anxious? Or heart attack?

27 Mar

woman_depression

A guest post written by Patti Digh, social activist, heart attack survivor, and the author of eight books including her best seller Life is a Verb: 37 Days To Wake Up, Be Mindful, And Live Intentionally.  This essay originally ran on her blog 37 Days in January 2016.

“He’s working with a med student shadowing him today. Do you mind being seen by her first?”

In the spirit of education, I said, “No, of course not.”

She had long strawberry blond hair and big glasses. We talked. “What brought you here today?” she asked. Continue reading

Designing with the patient in mind

20 Mar

Mobile app for health

This guest post by Irish blogger, speaker, patient and healthcare social media maven Marie Ennis O’Connor was originally published January 26, 2016 by Patient Empowerment Network, and reprinted here with Marie’s kind permission.

Designing with the patient in mind: Incorporating patient values, preferences and needs into digital health interventions.

“We are stuck with technology, when what we really want is just stuff that works.”

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy

A new report by Accenture reveals that just two percent of patients at hospitals are using the health apps provided for them. The research, which assessed mobile app use among the 100 largest U.S. hospitals, found that 66 percent of the hospitals have mobile apps for consumers and 38 percent of that subset have developed proprietary apps for their patients.

However, a mere two percent of patients at those hospitals are using the apps provided to them. This staggeringly low figure represents an alarming waste of resources in the healthcare industry.
Continue reading

My open letter to “Patients Included” conferences

6 Mar

different red chair

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

Dear medical conference organizers,

Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in your conference later this year. It is a real honour to be asked to help represent the patient voice at your prestigious event. I know that inviting patients alongside your impressive international roster of well-respected physicians is new to you. So congratulations on embracing the increasingly important “Patients Included” movement sweeping through medical conferences.

But as I once wrote to patient blogger (and conference speaker) Carly Medosch:

“I can no longer afford to be ‘honoured’ by any more medical conference invitations.”

Allow me to explain:
Continue reading

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