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Archive for February, 2007

Doctors: Manage our Expectations, please!

That’s the theme that popped up time after time, segment after segment, this morning as we taped my weekly radio show.

One interview took place with Dr. Dale Avers, an associate professor of the physical therapy education program at SUNY Upstate. Our conversation on the show was about total knee replacement and the physical therapy and exercise patients need to do post-surgery. She said patients never understand what they are in for when it comes to the exercise they need after the surgery. The complaint she hears repeatedly from patients is, “My doctor never told me that!”

I also interviewed Dr. Robert Carhart, a cardiologist at University Hospital in Syracuse, NY who was helping us look behind the New York Times story about stents /angioplasty /cardiac catheterizations vs heart bypass surgery. New research is telling us that in the rush to make procedures “easier” for patients by using angioplasty and stents, many patients end up with bigger problems down the road that bypass surgery would have avoided.

In both cases, problems stemmed from patients who just didn’t have enough information before giving their “informed consent” for those procedures. In both cases, patients did not do well enough post-surgery because they didn’t have the information they needed prior to their surgeries. In both cases, patients did not know what to expect — and that’s because doctors didn’t tell them.

Remember informed consent? Patients thought they were informed, they gave consent, but in both cases, they weren’t really informed at all.

So what can be done about that?

Doctors: YOU are the ones with the knowledge. and YOU are the ones who can manage our expectations. When it comes to any kind of treatment — or even a test — tell us what to expect! Having that knowledge helps us make better decisions and helps us find better outcomes.

Patients: WE are the ones who need to ask! Doctors are in too big a hurry — they don’t have time to think up our questions for us. If you are presented with any kind of test or treatment option that you know will be at all difficult or invasive — then ASK WHAT TO EXPECT! What will happen before? What will happen after? What will happen during? What are your responsibilities in the meantime?

And, patients, make sure to get a second opinion before you undergo any kind of invasive test, procedure, treatment or surgery. That’s an even more troubling conversation that took place about doctors who profit from their recommended treatments. Stay tuned! I’ll share that one with you tomorrow.

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Can “The Secret” rid you of disease?

It’s everywhere! It’s everywhere! I’ve seen it on Oprah, I’ve seen it on Ellen, and now I’ve seen it on the Today Show — “The Secret” — the book about the Law of Attraction and how it can improve your life.

Got a problem with health? or finances? or your love life? Read The Secret. Life will be perfect. Well — maybe it’s not quite that easy!

Perhaps not surprisingly — I’m actually a fan of the book. I began reading it several months ago, and for many reasons, I think it’s wonderful. It’s very positive, it’s very do-able, and its outcomes can make a huge difference in many people’s lives.

If you aren’t familiar, it’s about setting your brain up to think in very positive ways. You commit yourself to your goals, and you believe you already have achieved them. You practice grace and gratefulness. The Law of Attraction says that you will attract exactly what you put out into the universe, so by thinking positive thoughts, you will attract that positiveness (is that a word?). Or positivity. Good things will come to you.

The problem I have with it is expectations — what can actually be attracted vs what can’t be. The authors claim it’s scientific, and you can get your new car, win the lottery and/or rid yourself of disease, as long as you put those ideas out into the universe and truly believe you have already accomplished them.

Sorry — not buying it. At least not to that extent. I don’t think that someone diagnosed with asthma can put “no asthma” out into the universe and suddenly breath clearly again with no medication. I don’t think someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, has the scans and bloodwork to prove it, and is given only a few weeks to live can put “picture of health” out into the universe and walk away from that death sentence.

What I DO believe is that positive thinking can have a very positive effect on anything in our lives. I DO believe (and there are evidence-based studies to back it up) that our attitude makes a huge difference in our health, and how we tolerate our health. My dad, who has every reason healthwise to complain and be miserable, enjoys a happy existence because he has such a positive attitude. He believes — a la The Secret — that my mother’s Alzheimers can improve (and it has!)

And don’t forget — I never bought-in to my cancer diagnosis. I truly believed I did not have it. Putting that thought out into the universe helped me prove I didn’t. BUT — that’s not the same as curing it. I didn’t put a CURE into the universe — only the belief that the doctors were wrong. The difference can be seen in that the biopsy was two weeks previous to anyone mentioning cancer to me — and when the biopsy was finally reviewed by someone who knew what she was doing, it proved I never had cancer to begin with.

To the extent The Secret can help us be positive thinkers, and can help us remember to be consistently grateful (no matter whether you think that has religious or spiritual connotations or not) — I think it’s a wonderful resource and a great approach to life.

But don’t mix it up with unrealistic expectations. I think unrealistic expectations can be dangerous and can get in the way of good.

God helps those who help themselves — that’s true with The Secret, too.

………………..
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Sign up for Every Patient’s Advocate once-a-week or so email tips.
………………..

Can “The Secret” rid you of disease?

It’s everywhere! It’s everywhere! I’ve seen it on Oprah, I’ve seen it on Ellen, and now I’ve seen it on the Today Show — “The Secret” — the book about the Law of Attraction and how it can improve your life.

Got a problem with health? or finances? or your love life? Read The Secret. Life will be perfect. Well — maybe it’s not quite that easy!

Perhaps not surprisingly — I’m actually a fan of the book. I began reading it several months ago, and for many reasons, I think it’s wonderful. It’s very positive, it’s very do-able, and its outcomes can make a huge difference in many people’s lives.

If you aren’t familiar, it’s about setting your brain up to think in very positive ways. You commit yourself to your goals, and you believe you already have achieved them. You practice grace and gratefulness. The Law of Attraction says that you will attract exactly what you put out into the universe, so by thinking positive thoughts, you will attract that positiveness (is that a word?). Or positivity. Good things will come to you.

The problem I have with it is expectations — what can actually be attracted vs what can’t be. The authors claim it’s scientific, and you can get your new car, win the lottery and/or rid yourself of disease, as long as you put those ideas out into the universe and truly believe you have already accomplished them.

Sorry — not buying it. At least not to that extent. I don’t think that someone diagnosed with asthma can put “no asthma” out into the universe and suddenly breath clearly again with no medication. I don’t think someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, has the scans and bloodwork to prove it, and is given only a few weeks to live can put “picture of health” out into the universe and walk away from that death sentence.

What I DO believe is that positive thinking can have a very positive effect on anything in our lives. I DO believe (and there are evidence-based studies to back it up) that our attitude makes a huge difference in our health, and how we tolerate our health. My dad, who has every reason healthwise to complain and be miserable, enjoys a happy existence because he has such a positive attitude. He believes — a la The Secret — that my mother’s Alzheimers can improve (and it has!)

And don’t forget — I never bought-in to my cancer diagnosis. I truly believed I did not have it. Putting that thought out into the universe helped me prove I didn’t. BUT — that’s not the same as curing it. I didn’t put a CURE into the universe — only the belief that the doctors were wrong. The difference can be seen in that the biopsy was two weeks previous to anyone mentioning cancer to me — and when the biopsy was finally reviewed by someone who knew what she was doing, it proved I never had cancer to begin with.

To the extent The Secret can help us be positive thinkers, and can help us remember to be consistently grateful (no matter whether you think that has religious or spiritual connotations or not) — I think it’s a wonderful resource and a great approach to life.

But don’t mix it up with unrealistic expectations. I think unrealistic expectations can be dangerous and can get in the way of good.

God helps those who help themselves — that’s true with The Secret, too.

………………..
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Sign up for Every Patient’s Advocate once-a-week or so email tips.
………………..

Doctors Write “Information Prescriptions”

This month’s AARP Magazine has a good article about finding trustworthy health and medical information online written by David Kushner. (I tried to find it on their website to provide you with a link, but it doesn’t seem to be there.)

There is some excellent advice — points I share with readers and workshop attendees on a regular basis. And there was one point in the article that was new to me! So I thought I would share it with you.

Turns out, the American College of Physicians and the National Library of Medicine have finally figured out that patients WILL look online for information, even if they prefer patients not do so. (surprise!) In their “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach, they have now developed a “process” to help physicians help their patients find trustworthy information. They call it an “Information Prescription” — and they sell doctors little prescription pads so they can write down a web address or two, plus some keywords for patients to use.

OK. I’ll buy that. Now the question is — how do you find a doctor who buys in to the approach? (I think there may be one in Texas :-) !) My experience is that most doctors either hate the fact that patients use the internet, or they suffer it, sometimes not so silently.

But it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

………………..
Want more tools for sharp patients?
Sign up for Every Patient’s Advocate once-a-week or so email tips.
………………..

Doctors Write “Information Prescriptions”

This month’s AARP Magazine has a good article about finding trustworthy health and medical information online written by David Kushner. (I tried to find it on their website to provide you with a link, but it doesn’t seem to be there.)

There is some excellent advice — points I share with readers and workshop attendees on a regular basis. And there was one point in the article that was new to me! So I thought I would share it with you.

Turns out, the American College of Physicians and the National Library of Medicine have finally figured out that patients WILL look online for information, even if they prefer patients not do so. (surprise!) In their “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach, they have now developed a “process” to help physicians help their patients find trustworthy information. They call it an “Information Prescription” — and they sell doctors little prescription pads so they can write down a web address or two, plus some keywords for patients to use.

OK. I’ll buy that. Now the question is — how do you find a doctor who buys in to the approach? (I think there may be one in Texas :-) !) My experience is that most doctors either hate the fact that patients use the internet, or they suffer it, sometimes not so silently.

But it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

………………..
Want more tools for sharp patients?
Sign up for Every Patient’s Advocate once-a-week or so email tips.
………………..