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Archive for the ‘caregivers’ Category

Watching the Headlines for Opportunities

January 8, 2012 1 comment

A link on Twitter precipitated today’s post and idea for you.  It contains a challenge, too!  See below.

The tweet linked to a news article: A second set of eyes cuts errors at HCMC.  It tells about an initiative at Hennepin County Medical Center (Minneapolis) that cut the medication errors found in patients’ discharge paperwork from 92 percent – to zero. 0.  Nada. No medication errors.  Impressive.

Now, if you or your patient-client happens to be discharged from Hennepin County Medical Center, that’s great news.

But the article got me wondering – what about the other 99.999 percent of discharged hospital patients in the world?  How many other hospitals have such horrendously dangerous medication error rates in the discharge paperwork given to their departing patients?

And then an a-ha moment…  Read more…

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A One Word Resolution for All Advocates

January 2, 2012 6 comments

Greetings at the top of new year, with hopes you had a great holiday season and you’re getting prepped for success in 2012.

I always feel a bit of inertia after taking a break, or a vacation, or when my world has slowed down for some deep breath-taking for awhile…. that is, my body at rest still wants to stay at rest!  And when I hear about “resolutions” – geesh – that sounds too much like work.

So, as we are bombarded by media talking about this resolution or that, I have one simple one for many of you – not much work at all.  There will be some of you who find this suggestion already ingrained in your lexicon.  But for others, it’s a habit worth breaking, or a good one worth establishing, for a few different reasons.

That habit is breaking the use of the word “patient” when we talk about the people we work with.  If you use that term, then today is your day to stop.  Instead, shift to using the word “client.”

Why?  Read more…

Advocating – It’s Like Nailing Jello to a Tree

July 24, 2011 2 comments

(No – that’s not Dad in the photo – but this gentleman is quite representative!)

Last week I shared notes from my father’s hospital bedside as he began his recovery from back surgery.  The majority of his hospital stay was safe and successful, although we continued to have big problems managing his pain throughout.

Dad was discharged to a skilled nursing center to convalesce and begin rehab.  He’s well on the road to recovery.  We have much to be thankful for.

As mentioned previously, my work does not typically include helping individual patients with their healthcare challenges.  I write and speak on advocacy topics, but one-on-one is not how I spend my typical day… So this hospital experience with Dad was quite the eye opener.

And what I learned is that being a successful patient advocate means learning how to nail jello to a tree.  (Just picture it….)  And it raised my esteem even further (if that was possible!) of all of you who work side-by-side with patients every day.

I do not know how anyone gets out of a hospital alive without having an advocate by his or her side.  OK, I don’t think it must always be a paid, private advocate who pitches in.  A family member, or someone who knows about the necessary safety measures will be able to catch most of the smaller problems.  But I learned that for those of us who are not experienced, it is impossible to anticipate the “saves” that professional advocates perform. And the magnitude of those “saves” is what is important.  They can be life-saving.

Some examples of the ones I caught:

Read more…

Standing Up for Our Patients – Those Aretha Franklin Moments

April 18, 2011 1 comment

This post asks the question:  At what points do we go to the wall for our patients?  And when we need to go there, what’s the best approach?

Scenario: You’ve accompanied your patient-client to a medical appointment and the receptionist is rude to your patient when you check in.  Do you say or do anything?  And if so – how?

Scenario:  As you sit by your patient’s hospital bedside, a nurse comes in to change a dressing already wearing gloves.  You ask her to wash her hands and put on new gloves and she cops an attitude.  Do you insist?  And if so, how?

Scenario:  Your client needs to make a very difficult medical decision and has asked for your help to weigh the pros and cons, and to uncover additional possibilities.  You’ve walked him through all the possibilities – including those the doctor provided, and others you learned about through some research you did on his behalf.  His choice is not the same as the doctor’s recommendation, but when he gets to the appointment with his doctor to share his decision, the doctor tells him he’s making the wrong decision. Clearly uncomfortable, your client begins to backpeddle, to default to what the doctor has recommended.  Do you speak up on your patient’s behalf?  And if so, where do you start?

Read more…

And Now a Word for Patients….

Last week we recognized Private Professional Patient Advocates Week, and across the country, some great stories showed up in newspapers, on TV, online and in radio broadcasts sharing stories of patients and caregivers who have been helped and the advocates who have helped them.

Some of the stories, both reviewed last week and over the past few years, are amazing – high end cancer protocols that were never mentioned by physicians, but were brought to patients by their advocates.  Complementary therapies, and wellness strategies that patients feel have been useful to them.  Thousands of dollars … Read more…

Who Deserves a Patient Advocate’s Help?

February 14, 2011 2 comments

I’ve wrestled with this question more than once.  It’s the question raised on occasion by those who talk about universal healthcare, and a for-profit healthcare system.  It’s a question asked by those who are concerned that not everyone in the United States has access to healthcare.  It’s asked by almost anyone who asks me what I do for a living.

The question is, “Doesn’t providing private patient advocacy services only to those who can afford them, just create one more division between the “haves” and the “have nots?”

Lots of soul searching, and more than a few conversations have produced the definitive answer to that question.  The answer is:

Read more…

Lessons from The Loss of a Patient

January 31, 2011 2 comments

Sooner or later, it happens to every patient advocate or navigator who works with patients on the medical aspects of their care (as opposed to other forms of advocacy, like billing or legal advocates).

One of “our” patients – someone whose hand we have held, who we have protected from problems in the hospital, who depended on our advocacy expertise as a way to make the rough road through disease and debilitation smoother… A patient we had built a comfortable and friendly relationship with, a patient we invested ourselves and our work in…

That patient dies.

And we feel like we have failed.

It’s the nature of advocacy work that patients don’t come looking for us until they have been diagnosed with something that will, perhaps, eventually end their lives.  That’s why they seek our help.  They are fearful, they don’t understand the overwhelming amount of information they are expected to immediately comprehend. They have decisions to make and feel incapable of making them.  They, or the caregiver who better understands their predicament, searches for, and finds, that one person who can help smooth the road…  the advocate.

And it’s our nature, as advocates, to want to rescue our patients from their fears and frustrations, and to save them from all that grief. But as one of my wise patient advocates friend reminded me,

Read more…