Health & Wellness

Be Your Own Patient Advocate

by Angelique Campen

Ebell member Angelique Campen gave a timely and valuable talk at the opening luncheon of the season. Advising her audience how to become their own best patient advocate, she relayed stories of medical errors and stressed the need to remain vigilant, whether during doctor’s appointments or while in the hospital.

Among her recommendations:

  • Ask to be a doctor’s  first appointment of the day, so his or her schedule isn’t backed up and you will have more focused attention.
  • Don’t worry about being polite! you don’t need to be your doctor’s favorite patient or best friend. In fact, being known as the squeaky wheel can work in your favor.
  • Mention that you have a relative who is a doctor (or a lawyer!)
  • Come prepared: Bring your questions. Bring a friend who can stay cool, take notes, remind you of your questions and ask other pertinent ones,.
  • Keep a list of all your medications and dosages in your wallet in case of emergency. This can save valuable time in the Emergency Room.
  • Stay alert and vigilant about prescriptions: Look at any prescription you’re given to make sure you can read it; if you can’t, the pharmacist might have trouble too. When you get it from the pharmacist, doublecheck it’s what you’re prescribed. Doublecheck again on the web. Ask your pharmacist if this is the right choice. Ask about generics.
  • When going to a doctor’s office or hospital, bring Purell. Put it on the nurse’s hands. Ask for his or her stethoscope, and say “Let me clean that for you.” Most likely it’s been used on 20 other people since its last cleaning.
  • If you are having surgery on a leg, write in magic marker on the leg that is not being operated on, “Not this one!”
  • The right anesthesiologist is critical. You’ll be told that anesthesiologists rotate, but you’re the boss of who works on your body and have the ultimate choice.. Interview anesthesiologists. Also, be aware that there are a lot of egos out there. If you get pushback to something you’ve asked for, ask for another anesthesiologist.

 Angelique has many other tips, which she is compiling in a book.

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