Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thursday Review: The Empoered Patient by Elizabeth Cohen

An unlikely birthday gift but a useful and appreciated one, The Empowered Patient by CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, is a book that belongs on everyone's shelf. It contains commonsense information on how to find "Dr. Right" and some red flags that you may be getting "Dr. Wrong," suggestions on questions to ask during a doctor visit, information on dealing with insurance companies and drug companies, how to stay healthy or at least not get sicker if you're hospitalized. Do you know if your doctor is prescibing a medication produced by a company with which he/she has some financial involvement? Suggestions on how to find out are listed. Best of all, the book contains an appendix with a worksheet to bring to medical appointments and a list of useful websites on evaluating physicians and hospitals. The internet is an ocean of medical and faux-medical information; this book helps patients use it sensibily.

As I think back to my husband's year long battle with leukemia, I regret having not been as empowered as I might have been. From my own experience, I have some additional suggestions. One thing I learned was to bring a tape recorder to medical appointments to be sure we really did understand what was said in the midst of stressful sessions, to take someone with us so we could have another pair of ears, perhyaps a more objective opinion on what went on.

Time pressure is often a serious concern especially when dealing with critical illlnesses or medical emergencies. Sometimes we jump into or get pushed into a solution without having time to think it through. Finding out what is a realistic interval for making far-reaching decisions is important and may be life-changing.

If you have suggestions for becoming a more empowered patient, bring them on.
And thanks to my friend Lynn for the book.



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