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Archive for February, 2009

A Doctor’s God Complex, a Life Nearly Lost

A friend and colleague, Franny, shared her story with me and caused my jaw to drop. Then, I realized it didn’t really surprise me at all.

Having suffered months and months of treatment for his brain cancer, Asa’s life was almost lost due to the arrogance of the resident who was in charge of his care.

Read Franny’s story and see what you think. Then see if you agree with the steps she took afterward or whether you might have done something else instead.

A Doctor’s God Complex, a Life Nearly Lost

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About.com Health is All a-Twitter

If you thought social networking was only for kids, Gen Web-ers or geeks, then think again.

Social networking has become a great source for finding people who can help you improve your health, or your medical care.

socnetlogos1 If you aren’t sure what I mean by social networking, then you’ll recognize it by other names you have heard, like FaceBook, mySpace or Twitter.

Last month I asked who is using these websites to learn more, and many of you voted in my poll.  But now it occurs to me that for those of you who don’t, you may be missing out on some solid information that can move you forward in your quest to get better healthcare.

So here’s some background information on getting started with social networking.

And, as you may know, I am the patient empowerment guide at About.com — and learned recently that many of my About.com Health colleagues are using Twitter to help their readers, too.  So I’ve put together a list of my About.com Health Twitter colleagues for you to check out.

Do you Twitter?  Do you have a page at Facebook or any of the other social networking sites?  If you’re willing to pitch into the conversation and share what you’ve learned, then please share your ideas – and your IDs, too.

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Some Light Reading and Good Dinner Conversation

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Lest you think patient advocacy is all about sticking up for yourself through doom and gloom, I thought I’d share this piece from Prevention Magazine.  I enjoyed it, and learned something from this baker’s dozen of tips. Maybe you’ll learn something, too:

  1. Why do we laugh until we cry?
  2. Why do onions make us tear up?
  3. Why do our joints crack?
  4. What causes goose bumps?
  5. What makes an eyelid twitch?
  6. Why are we always cold?
  7. Are our ears still growing?
  8. Are all babies born without freckles?
  9. What causes pins and needles?
  10. Why do we see halos around lights?
  11. Are “crankles” good for you?
  12. Can gum and cheese help your teeth?
  13. Why do we get side stitches?

One aspect of being a smart patient is being an informed patient.  While few of these will actually help you heal or navigate the dysfunctional American healthcare system, at least they’ll give you something to talk about over the dinner table with your family — a very healthy family activity.

Enjoy!

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Snooping – Medical Records Access Made Easy

I exchange thoughts with healthcare IT people on a daily basis over at Twitter.  So many of them seem perplexed at why we patients look at putting our medical records on the internet with trepidation.

Then along comes this video from Elizabeth Cohen at CNN.  In a matter of minutes, she was able to pull up one of her CNN colleague’s medical records, his kids’ records… She could see which doctors they’ve visited, what took place during those meetings…


HIPAA is supposed to protect us from others getting our medical records right?

We don’t want potential employers finding out we have to take meds to control blood pressure or cholesterol every day — it’s not their business!

And consider this scenario:  you have no health insurance, or maybe you’ve just been laid off and you’ve lost your insurance.  Now you need new insurance.  Well guess what?  Insurers are looking behind the scenes to find reasons to turn you down. Regardless of how easy it is for others to get your medical records, the Medical Information Bureau makes it easy for insurers anyway.

Here’s my opinion on this issue:  I absolutely believe our health records need to be online, both to improve our health and to save money.  Both are reason enough to do make medical records accessible digitally.

I do NOT believe patients should be putting their own health information online through Google or Microsoft Health Vault or any of the free applications out there, and I very much object to those large organizations (like the Mayo Clinic) which are getting in bed with these two privacy-sucking behemoths.  Those “free” applications are not free.  I’ve written about that extensively in the past.

I do believe patients can keep track of their own records, digitally, through any of the pay-for-service PHR (personal health record) programs.  You can read about the differences between the free and service fee PHR programs.

Now the government is looking at ways to move all our records online, and they are ready to throw $20 billion into the project.  I support that — with this caveat:  part of that money must make sure that our records can’t get into the wrong hands — including Elizabeth Cohen’s (Elizabeth, you know I love ya!) — because while Elizabeth is only showing us the potentials, not everyone has our best interests or good motives for doing so.

By the way, Elizabeth takes time in the video to tell us how to protect our records.  Take a look.  It will serve you well.

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