Lying in a hospital bed while awaiting heart surgery, I looked at my teen daughter and my parents, then smugly pointed out the irregular slashes on the cardiac monitor. "See these?" I said. "They're called PVCs. My doctor is going to fix them. Make them all go away." The asymmetrical rhythm, a frequent and annoying pattern of multiple skipped heartbeats, had plagued me for the last three years, despite my swearing off ...

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There is a haze lurking overhead clouding rational thinking. Thoughts wander back to times when my body was unencumbered, and I felt nothing was out of my grasp.  Maybe that was an unrealistic thought, but it is how youth and inexperience protect one from the somewhat harsh realities of growing older. Coming to terms with chronic health conditions is perplexing. There are days when everything goes just right. The sun is ...

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Some weeks ago, this writer visited with a friend who had been admitted to an inpatient psychiatric unit of a New York hospital. The friend had been there for a few weeks. Other patients have been there for longer. After spending approximately an hour with his friend, this writer was not allowed to leave the unit at the conclusion of his visit. It wasn't until 15 minutes later that one of ...

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I was an RN for more than 40 years and am now retired. As a recent hospital patient, I documented my experiences. This resulted in a letter to nurses everywhere. *** Dear Nurse, Please be kind to me. I am frightened, alone, and in pain. I am way out of my comfort zone and need every bit of encouragement you have to offer. I arrived at the emergency room a short while ago, was ...

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I’m a patient and consumer advocate who has dedicated my career to improving the health care system. I’ve encountered the good, the bad, and the ugly of our health care system, but I was still not prepared for what I heard in April 2016 when I attended my first national medical association conference and listened to a resident share his experience with severe depression. He spoke about a never-ending list ...

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From a planning perspective, Wolfgang Balzer is the perfect health care consumer. Balzer, an engineer, knew for several years he had a hernia that would need to be repaired, but it wasn’t an emergency, so he waited until the time was right. The opportunity came in 2018 after his wife, Farren, had given birth to their second child in February. The couple had met their deductible early in the year and figured ...

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STAT_LogoI’ve been living with chronic pain for more than a decade. It began in 2009 with nerve damage after emergency groin surgery. Four years later, I fell and hit my head. That fall led to a constant headache, a whistling sound in my ear, back and hip pain, tingling and numbness in my hands and feet, electrical shocks ...

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Take one-half tablet three times per day with meals, increasing by half each week until reaching a maximum of three tablets three times per day. Did you get a new prescription from your doctor? If so, there is a 50 percent chance you will not adhere to label directions. Either the instructions are too complicated, the drugs are too expensive, you do not like the way the medicine makes you feel ...

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Let’s get right to it: This is an apology letter to frontline clinicians. And a call to action. I’m a patient advocate, and I’ve spent most of the last 20 years fighting for patient- and family-centered care in national laws and regulations, and in local practice. Prioritizing the needs of patients and families above all else. It is meaningful work to which I feel deeply called, and it is hard work ...

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As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed one morning, I noticed an article with a title starting with: "When Doctors are Wrong" with a picture of a newborn baby with a breathing tube in the NICU. I immediately opened the article and started reading it with interest because my baby also looked this way, so tiny, in the NICU, with lots of tubes all covering her little body. As I ...

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