When my 82-year-old uncle had a heart attack in the kitchen of his home, I was on the next plane to the East Coast. No one knew how long his brain had been deprived of oxygen before he’d been resuscitated. As I stood next to his bed in the hospital’s ICU, I feared that my uncle would not make it. I learned that he’d suffered a second heart attack shortly ...

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There is a saying in the world of education, “You have to care to teach.” Why is it then in health care, a profession of and about caring, we do such a poor job of teaching our patients?  Is it because we are too busy or too rushed when we are sending our patient’s out the door of our hospitals, clinics or offices? After all, we have treated the patient ...

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A few years ago, as I prepared for neurosurgery, a nurse who worked there told me, “Spend as little time in the hospital as possible, because the longer you stay, the more likely you are to get sick.” In a way, that statement seemed quite telling of what was to come for me and an indicator cost of care -- the added cost of additional care, additional hospitalizations, and the additional ...

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On the first day of school, a letter to my childs teacher I don’t know you and you don’t know me, but today you become one of the most important people in my life. You are the one. The one who I’ve entrusted to take care of my girl in my absence. The one who I’ve tasked with teaching her things that I cannot. The one who will make an indelible mark on her ...

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It was July 2012 and I was pregnant with my third child. As an experienced mother and labor and delivery nurse, I felt very comfortable at 29-weeks gestation and anticipated the usual course of pregnancy. However, at 30 weeks, I started battling with preterm labor issues. This eventually led to the early delivery of my son, a four week and stay in the NICU, and a life lesson in cost-awareness ...

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I wish I had a dollar every time someone gets misty-eyed about the physician-patient relationship -- and two dollars every time they say protecting it is the key to health care. That might be true, if you thought health care was awesome circa 1960. Hereʼs what the physician-patient relationship meant back then: Physicians say, patients pay. We have seen little progress since then. The claim that the relationship is now symmetrical ...

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Not long ago, Tracy Hume, a freelance writer who lives in Greeley, Colorado, sent me an email posing this question: "Do ER-affiliated urgent care providers ever try to escalate patients to the ER when it is not medically necessary?" It seems that over the July 4th weekend, Tracy’s teenage son was complaining of a headache, nausea and abdominal pain, and was vomiting. He doesn't complain much, she said, so thinking that ...

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My grandmother recently went into hospice care. At 94, she has lived a longer, richer life than probably most of us will ever hope to. Given the nature of the work I do, end of life care is not a topic I’m unfamiliar with. Initially, I spent a lot of time asking my mother probing questions about the care my grandmother was receiving. I imagine I did this partly out ...

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An interview with Jessie Gruman Jessie Gruman, who sadly died July 14, 2014, was someone I greatly admired as a person and as a patient activist. I interviewed her in late April for research I was conducting on patient activism, and she graciously allowed me to publish the interview, wanting, not surprisingly for those who knew her, to do everything she could to use ...

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In medicine, the patient is not always right Beginning with the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) landmark Quality Chasm report in the late 1990s, the health policy establishment, the medical profession and the American public began to hear a new and disconcerting message: American health care was not patient-centered. The IOM prescribed a number of recommendations to redesign health care delivery, one calling for patients as the source of control over their care. "Patients should ...

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