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Archive for April, 2009

Swine Flu Myths – From Celebrities to Conspiracy Theories

Pigs fly

It didn’t take long for the conspiracy theorists and the rumor mills to get going over swine flu, did it?

Let’s see:  do Madonna or Salma Hayak already have swine flu?

Or – is this possible pandemic really just bioterrorism?

These and more swine flu myths, separating fact from fiction and some fraud thrown in, too… check them out!

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Swine Flu – But What About Bacon and Eggs?

pigs

NoteSwine Flu FAQs updated daily

PlusShould We Be Afraid of Swine Flu?
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While the professionals provide us with statistics about Mexico, Texas, California or other places where patients have contracted swine flu, I actually find I have different questions all together:

  • I don’t live in Mexico. Am I at risk for getting swine flu?
  • Will my seasonal flu shot protect me?
  • I’ve never met a pig in person and don’t expect I’ll meet one anytime soon. Should I be worried about getting flu from a pig?
  • And what about my favorite Sunday breakfast – bacon and eggs?

So I went in search of the answers, believing that if I have those questions, you might too.  So I put them together in an article along with their answers: Swine Flu FAQs

And as for breakfast?  Very crispy please.

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Doctors “Fire” Patients – and Patients Respond

firedpatient

Many of you, my readers, have had complaints about the healthcare system, including the relationship you have (or don’t have) with a doctor. And I hear you — I’ve had bad experiences with some doctors, too.

But that begs the question — do doctors have complaints about patients, too?

Of course they do!  I asked, and received input from more than three dozen healthcare professionals.  I learned:

Ha!  Opened the floodgates, I did.  You’ll be amazed at some of the stories.

Since then, I’ve come across this question from KevinMD - and commentary by one of his responders that suggests that rather than fire his patients, he just makes them so miserable that they choose to leave him. (find comment from MANALIVE)

Have you been frustrated by a meeting with your doctor?  Have you received a letter telling you the doctor will no longer work with you?

I invite you to share your story, too — and to discover whether you fit one of those patient profiles that doctors really just don’t want to work with.

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Advocating – What’s “Friendly” Got to Do With It?

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It’s a simple question, but it has stirred some controversy.  It’s the word “friendly.”

Colleague and fellow passionate advocate Bart Windrum got (as my mother would say) his blood in a bubble after reading an article about engaging a patient advocate to help you navigate your healthcare, recently published in a Tampa newspaper.

In a list of tips about how to advocate for someone else, one tip said, “In hospitals ask, in a friendly way, that every pill, every injection, ….”

Bart thinks that’s ridiculous. He believes “friendly” comes across as “Beg. Acquiesce. Place yourself beneath again, some more.”

Bart is an author of  Notes from the Waiting Room. He knows what he is talking about.  Bart suggests we be business-like.  I agree.

Business-like may be a term lost on some who don’t operate in a business environment.  So I call it commanding respect.  To gain respect, which is so necessary in any medical setting, you must command it. You earn it by your actions and approach.

(Please note — that does not say “demand respect” — I believe that is impossible in any medical setting unless the other person fears you — another post for another day.)

How will you command that respect?  By being diplomatic and concise.  Start with polite. Let them know you have specific expectations and want accurate information. Earn / command the respect of those who can get you what you (your patient) needs.  If you don’t get the information or action you need in a fair amount of time (some actions require seconds or minutes, others can wait a half hour) then become assertive.  Never, ever become aggressive unless it is life and death and you are being ignored.

Here’s an example I got from Charles Inlander, a gentleman who was advocating for patients before most realized they needed it.  He was in the hospital, and needed a nurse’s help in the middle of the night.  He pushed the call button a number of times and got no response. (Does THAT sound familiar!) So finally he picked up the hospital phone, dialed “O” to get the operator, asked for the nurses’ station on his floor, told the person who answered what need needed, and seconds later the nurse showed up in his room.  (I love these kinds of ideas!)

What’s your experience?   Have you advocated for a loved one in a hospital?  Did “friendly” work when you actually needed something? Or did you find yourself having to be more definite and concise?

Did you command respect?

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We’re Looking for You!

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Paying for healthcare is getting more and more difficult, whether it’s affording insurance premiums, paying for expensive drug prescriptions or managing without coverage at all.  And there’s no sign that it will get any easier anytime soon, as we all know too well.

I’ve been contacted by a TV news network to help recruit two patients who need help managing their healthcare costs.  Do you fit either of these profiles?

  1. Someone who is recently laid-off, or for some reason no longer has health insurance and needs a medical procedure. Not a life threatening medical problem, but still serious enough that you know you need to get the procedure.  We will work with you to negotiate costs with the hospital (we will talk with the hospital first).
  2. Someone who has insurance and has a condition which creates an ongoing need for a prescription drug — several drugs if possible.   Perhaps you’ve recently been laid off and you’re using COBRA?  Or maybe your employer doesn’t pay for your healthcare.  We will work with you to lower the cost of your drugs.

In both cases, we’re hoping to find someone who lives in Upstate New York or the New York City area.

If you fit either profile or know someone who does, and you (or they) are willing to be on TV, please send me an email at: tv@epadvocate.com

We will choose the people we’ll work with by Monday, April 6.

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