The Folly of Driving to the ER

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Hugh, a gentleman of about 68 years, lived alone. Hugh wasn’t feeling well. It was just a general feeling that something – who knows what? – just wasn’t right.

After a short while, Hugh walked over to see Phil, his next door neighbor. Phil agreed to drive Hugh to the Emergency Room.

It took them about 30 minutes to get there. Hugh signed in, and together he and Phil sat down in the waiting room. Within 15 minutes, Hugh keeled over, out ...

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Black Box Warnings May Save Your Life

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This often comes as a major surprise for patients: that when a prescription drug is known to be effective, and is approved by the FDA for some patients, that doesn’t mean it’s effective and safe for all patients.

It’s true that some people may be allergic, or the drug might have been prescribed to treat the wrong diagnosis, or the patient may not take the drug properly and over (or under) dose….

…But those situations are not what I’m addressing in this ...

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No Diagnosis? It May Not Matter

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Years ago I watched a movie called Serendipity.  It starred Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack. It was a “romcom” – and adorable – and it occurs to me that it sets the stage for today’s post.

The story was about two young people who met in Bloomingdales while shopping, and through a series of events, they were attracted to each other, but never exchanged names. They then lost track of each other. Over the years they continued to ...

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OK, But What’s the Question?

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In my previous life as a speaker and writer on patient empowerment issues, I received email, even postal mail (meaning, yes, someone paid for a stamp!) from patients who were being challenged in some way by the healthcare system. Sometimes I would hear from 8 or 10 people in a week, 25, 30 or more a month.

Their stories were often sickening and terrifying. At the least they were frustrating to read (even more so to live through, I’m sure) and ...

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Aging and Alone? Who Will Hold Your Hand Through Healthcare?

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There are many names now being used to describe those of the baby-boomer generation who are aging and alone. “Elder Orphans” or “Solo Seniors” are two of them; describing the concept of someone who is older and has no family or younger friends to help them in time of medical crisis (or any other life-assisting event like moving, or shifting financial needs.)

  • Who can help them make end-of-life decisions?
  • Who can make decisions for them if they get sick?
  • Who can help them ...
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Those Elusive Test Results

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I’m not sure how it happened, but over the years, my medical appointments and tests all seem to have ended up as summer scheduled dates. 

You know – all those annual or periodic things:  bloodwork, mammogram, bone density, dentist, optometrist…. I also check in with the dermatologist once a year (because I was that fair-skinned, freckled kid who, as a teenager, slathered on the baby oil at the pool – remember those days?)  And this year was, oh joy of joys ...

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Yes, Sometimes the Doctor IS Wrong

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This topic is very personal. In fact, over the years I have been affected by PTSD (post traumatic stress) because of it. But because it’s so personal, I may be the best person to share this lesson with you.

My name is Trisha Torrey. 13 years ago this week, I found a lump on my torso, about the size of a golf ball. A surgeon removed it, it was sent off to the pathology lab for diagnosis, and two weeks later, ...

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“Do Not Quote Me”

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A few years ago I was at a picnic with a friend who is an orthopedist. The question was raised about whether advice given by doctors is always in the best interests of the patient.

“Do not quote me,” was how he began his reply. At least that alerted me that he would give an honest opinion.

What followed were a half dozen examples of times he had been forced to adjust his recommendations to patients because a number of hurdles stood ...

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My Sibling Has Disabilities, My Parents Have Died – Now What?

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This is such a difficult scenario, yet it happens every day.

A child, perhaps mentally or physically disabled from birth, or one who might have suffered an accident earlier in life, grows into adulthood, having been cared for by very loving parents who did everything they could possibly do to care for their child.

As everyone grows older, eventually both parents die, leaving behind the child with disabilities, now an adult, who has outlived his or her parents. Maybe the parents have ...

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The Dangers of Having Great Health Insurance

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On occasion, in a conversation with new acquaintance, they’ll ask me what I do for a living. I tell them I established and run the most comprehensive directory of independent, private health and patient advocates and care managers online, supported by a marvelous professional organization whose members populate the directory.

“Independent and private?” they ask me. “I don’t need an advocate like that because I have great health insurance!”

“Oh but you’re wrong!” I ...

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