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Stop Being A "Bystander" In Your Own Medical Care and Life

No one can help you more than you can yourself, so get involved in your healthcare.

This week a lot has gone on to bring me back to this topic. CNN posted an article on "Choosing Your Perfect Dr." and all that should go into it. Explaining that picking a name off of a random list will never get you the best care you need and deserve. You have to put effort into it to get great results.

CBS news ran a story about Dr. Sanjay Gupta and his new book called "Monday Mornings" which is a fictional story, but based on true events. It reveals the many medical mistakes that occur OFTEN in medicine and how they effect the dr. making them and the patient on the receiving end. He talks about the dr. who operated on the patient's wrong side of the brain and many other horrific, but true events. He explains that he wrote the book in hopes of having, both medical professionals and patients, understand that more is needed to be done on BOTH ends to help build a better "team" approach with the best results as the ultimate goal.

This confirmed for me that my message for years now has NOT been unfounded. My plea to you, and all of my family and friends, and anyone who will listen, is PLEASE get involved in your healthcare! Stop putting all of the responsibility onto the doctors and sitting back critical of the outcome. Ask questions. Do your research. GET COPIES OF YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS and TESTS. The stories in Dr. Gupta's book are NOT stories. They ARE real tradgedies that happen often. I hear these types of stories from devastated patients and families daily. Mistakes happen. A lot of them can be prevented.

In the last few weeks I have received calls from several clients to tell me their cancer has recurred or spread further. I hate those calls. I hate that part of my job. The saddest part is with these cases, where cancer was CLEARLY misdiagnosed, it was not always a misreading of a radiology film, but often a report, which CLEARLY states something suspicious was found or MORE needed to be done in way of testing, and is filed in a chart without anyone doing anything about it. Then, a year later, or more, this person is diagnosed with cancer. They go back to get their records and information to investigate a potential lawsuit and for the FIRST time they are horrfiied to read a report from years earlier that clearly states SOMETHING WAS WRONG then! Had they asked for a copy of their test results after each test, they could have seen it AT THAT TIME, and asked the dr. what needed to be done, making SURE it did not get filed and ignored and in essence, possibly saving their own life. Drs. are humans. Humans make mistakes. Offices get busy. Staffs are involved and there are lots of patients and lots of paperwork. No one is perfect. So be your own advocate and follow up on "YOU" and that is how you can help prevent becoming another statistic - another mistake.

In the last several months I have lost a few clients who didn't make it to see the end of their cases. People who should not have gone so young, or this way. It's a lot to watch. There are no words to describe the emotional aspect of this part of my job. It's why we wrote the book and why I can't stand by and do and say nothing.

A recent phone call from a co-worker of a family member brought questions about an abnormal mammogram, concern about THAT dr.'s suggestion to just wait and watch and come back in 6 months. After hearing the information and seeing the reports, I urged her to get a second opinion with a breast surgeon. The new dr. did NOT agree and felt it was something suspicious that should come out at once. She was scheduled for biopsy and was told she had cancer. Cancer in such early stages that she was very lucky and would possibly be able to get away with some additional surgery and radiation only. Several more months and this scenario would have changed greatly. She was proactive. She asked the right questions and did the right things.

Crisis averted. THAT is the part I love. THAT is why I do what I do. If I can help ONE person (and honestly I hope it is thousands more) avoid a problem BEFORE it happens, then I have completed my mission.

I feel beyond helpless when I meet the countless number of people I do who have problems I cannot fix. HUGE ones. They didn't ask the right questions, speak up, get second opinions or get their records/reports. It happens every day all the time. So PLEASE hear what I am saying and think about it. Try it. These simple things may save you, or your loved ones life. So why wouldn't you?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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