<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Preventing Healthcare Trouble
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                  Preventing Health Trouble
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Power Philosophy

I am a strong believer in luck and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.
Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

Too often we let a warning become a problem, then hope our doctor can fix it. Too often what can't be treated now would have been earlier, or at least improved. The mistake is to be passive. You need to make luck by acting early, by being involved, and preparing when possible. This will bring you better health services.

The good news is that many powerful steps are not only easy, they are already routine for other services and decisions in your life. You just need to transfer the habits into healthcare.

How can problems happen with modern healthcare?
There is much healthcare cannot do yet, too much sadly. But beyond that there are two reasons, first patients fail their bodies and second they drift through the system into trouble.
Perhaps they abuse their bodies, assuming they are immortal or replaceable. Or commonly they just ignore problems, give poor descriptions of problems, or don't use the powerful healthcare they were given. The system can have gaps between its parts, or different parts working for different purposes, such as your doctor and insurer. The patient may demand the quick fix or new treatment without understanding safer steps thay may be invaluable to them. These are just a few reasons.

What are the easiest steps to fix this?
The most powerful steps are often also the easiest. Make them as routine as breathing.
A lot is common sense. Ask yourself these questions: Do you pay attention to what is said about you at work? Do you keep you records? Do you chose workers for their ability to help you ? Do you watch whether the work stays on track? Do you prepare for a hard job? If you said yes to these, you have the right style, now you need to reapply it a bit for health care. If you said no, think again.

Step by Step Examples:

When you report on something at work, is it understood? Do you tell all the key facts?
It is a common problem when a patient gives a history that important facts and symptoms are left out, or garbled. Consider that only you feel it. And if you can't communicate it, how will your physician or anyone know?

Miscommunication Traps: Can you explain what is bothering you? Surely this is simple, but there are two kinds of ways to go wrong, and seriously hurt your medical care.
Doctor, everything hurts!
If you make the problem too broad, because it is distressing you, and your physician may be left with no clues. It is like a trampled crime scene, the key footprints are lost in the crowd. The physician may be discouraged, or just lose confidence in your story. Focus the words on what you feel and just where you feel it. If you generalize too much you can prevent the physician's diagnostic tools from working. Remember the physician is trying to match what you say you feel with what medicine understands.
I don't remember much of where it hurt or when, but please fix it.
Too few clues is almost as bad as too many. Do you know that MRI scanners, blood tests, and other miraculous tools still leave big holes in what we can see about your body. There are many things only you know, only you feel. And what you feel is not visible on any test, you are the only source in the world. So prepare before your visit, and you may even want to help yourself with good notes. Little details may matter, and clear communication about your problem will help a lot. A Power Patient is a partner in healthcare. If it is important to you, do all you can.

Do you pay attention to you job evaluation, or what your friends say about you?

2) Well, do you know what your medical records say about you? They are talking all the time during your care. The mysteries and mishaps of medical records are a big problem. Your medical records define you more than you realize, and not just to your doctor but to insurance companies, lawyers. Each consultant or reviewer will rely whatever records they have, and may not tell you what is in them. And if you are not examined, it is all they have. They are not perfect, they are often not all there, they are often not timely, and they are very hard to correct. A phrase or fact that is wrong can take on a life of it's own, confuse people about you or even be used to make an incorrect point. So get them,: read them, learn them, and ask for corrections. It is common that patients can find the cause of much of their problem wtih the healthcare system in the record.

What if the pilot had only some cockpit instruments at your next flight? Would you go?
Be sure you physician has all the records, by getting your own copy and keeping it. You may have seen TV commercials about computers providing all your records, but that is very rare. In fact it is common to have only some of the records and some of the test results. Those are the pilot's flight instruments in medicine. And in medicine, particularly in complex cases, it is a monumental task to get all the records due to federal regualtions and other reasons. But you can make it simple if you do the basics and get them after each visit.

I want a good captain on my team.
3) Selecting a physician takes some time, experience and reassessment from time to time.
Remember Marcus Welby? Some of those wonderful features are rare today. Medicine is more complex and fast moving. Health care workers are pushed, stretched and rushed more and more. You need your primary care physician to be not only Marcus Welby, but to be leading your health care needs, have the time and style to focus on you, and teach you where you need it. The skills you need are uncommon in one package. it can take a search to find them and perhaps more than one physician to deliver them. For example you need the medical care, some teaching, timely correct notes because they are your representatives, and other opinions when the signs point to them.
Accurate, complete communication from you and to you. Timely, complete and correct notes, remembering they are you. Follow-up and follow through. Consider the opinions explained to you, and remember legally you decide and you are therefore the boss.

Would you go to work without your tools? Would you play your sport without training?
4) Medical care will only work its best if you are a full partner. When you exercise right, your weight is right, you are in shape, your body makes the right drugs of its own. Don't deny you and your doctor this part of medical care. Many vital drugs won't work if your body is not working right. Many operations will fail, or not hold their gains if the patient's body is not taken care of by the patient. Even great results can be lost. Learn a workable plan for health you can keep up, put it up where you won't forget it, and make it work for your body.

There is much more to prevention, and of course much about avoiding specific health problems. But this is an introduction to strategy important to almost all health care.


© PowerPatient, FIND, 2003, 2004