The Empowered Patient, Step 4: Record Keeping

by Erica Mitchell | January 22 2020


This week's topic has suggestions for how to keep track of all the information you are collecting. Whether you like paper-based or digital information storage, keep these ideas in mind to help reign in the sometimes overwhelming amount of data.

Step 4: Record-Keeping!

One of the most important things you can do as a patient or patient advocate is to keep notes. Write down symptoms, questions, and any information you may want to share with your caregiver. It is easy to think in the moment that you will remember what is said and remember what you want to ask and even remember all the information about your recent symptoms so you can answer the doctor’s questions.The truth is, however, that the visits and the concern are more stressful than we may know and it is very difficult to remember all that you need to remember.  Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

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Veteran's Hospitals Get New Rating System

by Erica Mitchell | January 16 2020

The VA's 5 Star ratings system was phased out this past December to make way for a new approach. The new ratings and comparison system intends to make it easier for prospective patients to compare VA facilities with other healthcare facilities in their area, something that was difficult with the previous system. Today's post will look at the new VA Hospital Compare.

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The Empowered Patient, Step 3: Action

by Erica Mitchell | January 15 2020

Our series continues with a step that helps you take action as you become a more empowered patient. While health insurance and other factors set certain limits on your choices, the more you know about your healthcare options in advance, the better. 

Step 3: Action!

In many cases, you decide what doctor you go to, what hospital you check into, and even what treatment you receive. There are few things you can do to help you make better choices.

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Preparing for Contamination: Lessons From Winter

by Erica Mitchell | January 10 2020

As winter settles in, communities across the country begin their preparations for snowfall and ice. Rather than deal with the drifts and icy patches after they are already in place, many of us prepare for this inevitability by putting down salt and sand, setting up car tents, and even installing heated driveway and walkway systems. The blizzards inevitably come - they are an inescapable part of nature, after all - but the impact they have on us is lessened. Strenuous snow shoveling is reduced, dangerous falls are avoided, and cars back out of driveways safely. Preparation is essential for a safer winter. What can we learn from this seasonal preparation when it comes to another environmental threat: Hospital acquired infections?

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The Empowered Patient, Step 2: Research

by Erica Mitchell | January 9 2020


This week we continue our series on our New Year's resolution: Becoming a more empowered patient! This step provides some guidelines to help make the most of our information-gathering.

Step 2: Research!

One of the first things any of us do when we encounter illness is to Google it. A study showed that one in three  (35%) American adults have used the Internet to "diagnose" a medical condition. Even our doctors warn us not to research "too much." It's not that they don't want us to be informed; it's just that the Internet is full of every kind of information, from baseless opinion to peer-reviewed data alongside an entire spectrum of possible diagnoses, prognosis, and symptoms. We have to be careful about our research and approach it more strategically..

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The Empowered Patient, Step 1: Prepare To Be Powerful

by Erica Mitchell | January 2 2020


Happy New Year!  Among our list of new year's resolutions, this one is going on top: Becoming more empowered patients. In today's healthcare settings, the patient can and should play a critical role in healing, if she or he is informed, assertive, and supported.

At no other time in history has the patient had access to the amount of information about illness, had the legal and societal (and financial) rights to determine healthcare choices, and access to widespread availability of cutting edge technology and expert care. This January you will find the steps you can take to become more empowered, either as a patient yourself, or as a patient advocate.

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A Child Is Born: Remembering Our Tiniest Patients

by Erica Mitchell | December 24 2019

Most babies are born healthy. Delivered in a hospital, a birthing center, a home, or even a stable, they are bundled up, fed, loved, and go on to grow up with few or no complications.

In those cases where a newborn arrives with a medical condition that requires treatment, however, these tiny patients face greater risks than any adult or even an older child. One of the greatest risks faced by newborn patients is getting an infection. In fact, hospital-acquired infections are one of the leading cause of infant morbidity and mortality in neonatal intensive care units.

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Presenteeism (Working While Sick) and Infection Control

by Erica Mitchell | December 20 2019

No profession knows more about disease transmission than those working in infection control and prevention. And yet, due to a complex network of issues, professionals in IC have rates of presenteeism - working while sick - that track right alongside every other profession. On average, 80% of professionals in IC report having gone to work while sick. What pressures lead a healthcare professional familiar with the risks involved in disease transmission to go to work while sick?

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Sickly Stowaways: Pathogens on a Plane

by Erica Mitchell | December 18 2019

Tomorrow marks the start of the busy holiday air travel season.  According to Airlines of America, 884 flights will be added to accommodate over 70 thousand extra daily passengers.  Therefore, our attention turns to the packed plains that will carry you to visit your loved ones, and the stowaways traveling right under your noses (and fingertips): Microorganisms.

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Healthcare Buildings that Do No Harm

by Erica Mitchell | December 13 2019

Physicians and other healthcare workers take an oath - whether literally or simply by taking up a profession in medicine - to "first, do no harm" to their patients. It's just taken for granted that anyone entrusted with the health of another individual has the overarching duty to not do additional harm to a patient. But what about the professionals responsible for building the spaces where these patients receive care? What are some steps they can take to ensure that the buildings they design "first, do no harm?" In today's post, we'll explore some key design choices that can make healthcare facilities healthier places to heal.

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