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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An excerpt from My Beautiful Detour: An Unthinkable Journey from Gutless to Grateful. Managing chronic illness can leave a person susceptible to emotional and mental health issues that can further exacerbate their physical symptoms.  Post-traumatic stress disorder can often accompany managing a physical illness, and often is the ...

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An excerpt from What Does It Feel Like to Die?: Inspiring New Insights into the Experience of Dying. People who are diagnosed with a fatal disease sometimes do more than cope. They grow. They repair or strengthen relationships. They find a deeper spirituality or meaning in the life that remains ...

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As I age, the probability of acquiring yet another health condition seems to, unfortunately, increase. There's always one test or another that is on my to-do list, be it bloodwork, X-ray, MRI, or maybe a CT scan thrown in for good measure. I comply usually with a sense that it is for the benefit of my health, i.e., to enable my doctors to determine the best mode of treatment for ...

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For many years after I became chronically ill, I blamed myself for failing to recover my health. I told myself: “You get sick; you get better. It’s as simple as that.” As a result of this stubborn attitude, I refused to set limits, even though it would have been a tremendous help, not only in managing my symptoms but in keeping them from flaring. Learning to set limitations I have a background ...

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