Medical Directions

Follow Us To Good Health

A trip to the emergency room can catch anyone of guard. However, it is crucial to be prepared for even this type of scenario. The Colleran Firm reports that, “emergency room errors may be caused by doctors’ fatigue, poor decisions, and overcrowding…The consequences are serious: delays in treatment, inappropriate diagnostic testing, medication errors, and failure to call in specialists (among other errors) can all lead to a patient’s injury or death.” Knowing this, it is important to know what to do if there is a medical emergency. Knowing what to expect can help you better understand the chaos in an emergency room. Being prepared before you are taken to an emergency room can prove to be just as important.

Keep things handy: Whether it is for you or your loved ones, you need to keep emergency contact numbers handy. Save the contact details of the nearby hospital or doctor on your cell phone. You can also consider keeping an emergency contact number on the lock screen of the phone itself. This would mean that you can make a call to the emergency contact even when your phone is locked. You can save important medical information in your mobile phone or in just any other form you want. Information regarding diabetes, allergies, and the medicines you take should always be kept handy in case of an emergency. In case of an accident, people often do not remember such details. That is the reason you should make it a point to carry important documents digitally or as hard copies. The information list that you keep should also contain important facts like allergies and ailments.

Speak up about your ailments and repeat yourself: If you ever fall victim to an emergency situation, you should communicate and speak up as much as possible with the doctors and caregivers. You must make sure that they understand the exact problems you are in. If possible, relay the same information to all the caregivers who come to treat you. Do not assume that if you have told a particular thing to the nurse, the doctor will surely know it too. Repeat, repeat, repeat to help avoid medical malpractice. You must provide a clear picture of your health condition before the  doctors make any decisions about your care.

Give Information and ask for information:You must remember that a lot of cases of medical malpractice occur due to improper, delayed, or incorrect diagnosis of health problems. Do not hold any sensitive issue from the doctor who is treating you. When you are prescribed any medicine, you need to ask which medicine you need to take for what problem and when. You should also ask when to follow up. Do not be hesitant to question emergency room staff and doctors until you are completely clear, and understand all details.

Plan ahead: Know what  your payment method will be ahead of time. It is important to keep credit cards handy in case you must rush out the door. This way you are able to pay for any emergency related medical costs using these cards at a medical facility. Keep a change of clothes and other essentials in a bag nearby for unexpected overnight stays.

Medical emergencies are scary and usually unexpected experiences. You may not always be able to avoid them, but there are a number of things that you can do better handle a crisis situation.

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Medicine is first and foremost a hard science. Laboratory research, measurable data, and the search for objective truths are what makes treatments actually work. Scientists experiment to develop drugs and other treatments that keep folks alive and well. Patients would not be able to trust their doctors and nurses if medicine were based on hunches and gut feelings. Doctors and nurses are scientists and technicians, and they need to get things right.  


There’s a problem, though. Medicine treats people. And people are complicated. When medicine ignores the human element, things go haywire. Patients get confused. They get hurt. They get angry. Doctors and nurses need to be able to communicate their messages effectively if patients are going to be able to take care of themselves.

Bridging Disciplines

Over the past two decades, a growing movement has been calling for the medical fields to take some hints from their dreamy distant relatives over in the humanities. This movement (which includes doctors like Atul Gawande and Rita Charon, as well as writers like Eula Biss and the late Susan Sontag) aims to improve patient care by focusing on the things medical professionals don’t always learn in school: empathy, clear writing, ethical literacy, and more. As hospitals become more and more automated, this need becomes even greater. Our increasingly digital health care already leaves patients feeling alienated, and medical professionals need to work hard to bridge that gap.

What’s in it for the Patient?

Does it seem far-fetched to suggest that surgeons brush up on their Shakespeare? You might be surprised. Physicians who study the arts in addition to science have better understanding of patient-centered care. These doctors can relate to their patients better and thus tailor their messages to suit the situation. Patients often need to complete complex self- care plans after they get out of the hospital; doctors who understand their patients’ points of view will be better equipped to communicate those plans in plain language. Patients who understand a doctor’s orders will obviously have an easier time following doctor’s orders.


One common approach to closing communication gaps is called “narrative medicine.” Narrative medicine attempts to teach medics how to “treat the whole person.” A patient suffering from a terminal, chronic disease is more than a bunch of data points on a chart; a patient is a human being going through an intense and confusing experience. According to narrative approaches to medicine, physicians who look beyond the test results in order to get a more complete picture of the patient will do a better job of educating and treating the patient.

What’s in it for the Medical Professionals?

So what exactly can fiction and pretty pictures do for a hard working doctor? In addition to improved patient care, medics can get a lot out of creative endeavors. Doctors report that writing and reading provide stress relief, greater closeness to their patients and coworkers, and profound philosophical understanding of their lives. Doctors and nurses have ethically complex and emotionally taxing careers; art and literature give them a powerful tool for exploring their personal issues in a safe environment. In short, the humanities can provide medics with that ever-elusive but essential thing: meaning.


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Diabetes is a common disease that affects approximately 30 million Americans of all ages. Although Type 2 Diabetes is most commonly diagnosed, many individuals are misdiagnosed and receive treatment for the wrong type of diabetes. While both types, 1 and 2, are similar, patients can become more ill or even die if they fail to treat the correct type of diabetes.


“Many medical conditions, such as diabetes, require a timely and correct diagnosis in order to effectively treat the illness,” says Abelson, a Washington DC Medical Malpractice Lawyer, “unfortunately, doctors and other medical professionals frequently fail to make a prompt and proper diagnosis, which may result in serious medical complications.” If you have diabetes, it’s crucial that you are being treated for the correct type and pay close attention to any negative changes in your health once you have received a diagnosis.

Understanding Diabetes


Everyone has heard of it and millions of people have been diagnosed with it, but not many people understand diabetes or know that there are different types. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder and occurs when the body doesn’t make enough insulin (the hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the bloodstream). Glucose is made up of the sugars and starches found in a variety of foods and creates energy. An individual with diabetes doesn’t have enough insulin or the body doesn’t use it effectively and as a result the glucose levels rise to dangerous levels.


  • Type 1: This type is also known as “Juvenile Diabetes” as it is typically diagnosed in younger people from children to young adults. This less common type of diabetes occurs when the pancreas is unable to make insulin because the immune system has destroyed the beta cells in the pancreas.


  • Type 2: This type of diabetes is most common, found most often in adults, and is also often misdiagnosed or diagnosed late. Type 2 is often related to genetics and obesity. Excess weight forces the pancreas to produce more insulin, but over time with continued strain, the pancreas loses ability to produce enough insulin to keep glucose levels normal.

Misdiagnosing Diabetes


Untreated diabetes, both types, can have symptoms similar to other health issues. As a result, some diabetes cases are improperly diagnosed. For instance, if a young patient comes into the doctor’s office with dizzy spells and extreme fatigue, doctors may be quick to diagnose the flu or a viral infection, treat it with antibiotics and send the family home (when in reality, the child has Type 1 diabetes). In just a few short hours, a wrong diagnosis can threaten a patient’s health to a deadly degree.


Properly diagnosing a patient with diabetes can also prevent the development of fatal diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Diabetes symptoms can vary from blurred vision to irritability to numb arms and legs. It’s important to remember that not every individual experiences the same symptoms. Individuals who suspect they have diabetes or are diagnosed with the disease should keep close tabs on their symptoms, communicate with their doctor, and always get a second opinion if there is any doubt or fear of misdiagnosis.


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Losing weight is hard. Fast food, lack of time, expensive equipment, and conflicting nutritional advice all seem to conspire to keep you from getting into the shape you want. Dietary plans and exercise regimens are hard to follow; it’s extremely difficult to pay attention to everything you eat, every stray bit of exercise you get in, and every time you slip up. Even if you get a good plan, you have difficulty knowing how well or poorly you’re following it.


Self-monitoring apps attempt to solve these problems. Get the right program, and you’ve got a dietitian, and personal trainer, and health journal all at your fingertips. While the research into these apps’ success rates is still unclear, there is no doubt that they work for many people. Here are some of the big ways in which self-monitoring apps can help you stay healthy.


Simply knowing what to do and what to avoid is a big problem for many would-be health nuts. Ask ten people their health advice and you’ll get ten answers. A good self-monitoring health app—be it nutrition, heart health, or diabetes tracking—will give you consistent advice. And consistency is a big deal; sticking to one plan ensure you won’t jump from strategy to another, following whatever is convenient at the moment. And, since the app’s on your phone, a second opinion is a just a couple Google clicks away. Apps can tell you what to eat, when to exercise, and even how much alcohol you’re safe to drink. Self-monitoring programs can fill your head with knowledge and your body with nutrition.

Practical Tips

Self-monitoring apps can give you great advice on what to do and when. One difficulty of taking care of yourself is that there’s too much information out there. You can get overwhelmed with decisions. Many psychological researchers point to decision fatigue as a legitimate obstacle for people in every walk of life. Making constant choices about what to eat, when to run, and whether or not to take one action or another is a real pitfall of self-care. If it’s too complicated, you’ll give up. Life is complicated enough. An app that makes recommendations for you can spare you some much- needed brain power. And, since many apps are designed using expert advice, you can trust that those tips are good.

Health Journal

Self-monitoring apps help you keep track of what you do and when. One great aspect of this trait is that even when you slip up, you’re generating good data to use for later. You can look for, say, everything you ate last July, when you gained 20 pounds. Detailed records can provide insight into what you did, how you felt, and what you should do next time. A mysterious illness or depression may not be so hard to figure out when you back and see you spent the previous two weeks eating nothing but cupcakes. And, of course, the simple act of recording your life can provide big benefits, mental and physical.

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For patients who are unable to gain easy access to health care facilities, or health care centers that are unable to send samples to labs for tests, the possibility of drone technology being applied to medical care poses itself as a very welcome development. Drones have the capacity to change the face of medical care significantly. With the recent review of drone legislation in the US, the stage is set for drone technology to become a mainstream tool of transport worldwide. The question now is, how will drone transport of medical related products and packages affect medical care?

Faster Delivery

The average drone can fly at a speed of 35-40mph, which is much faster than a bicycle and has the added advantage of being able to go as the crow flies. The drone is not encumbered by traffic or road signs, and can be estimated realistically per delivery time or ETA. Using drones in medical care for the delivery of medicines, vaccines, and samples for tests would ensure the packages are delivered fast and without any delays. Necessary drugs can get to ailing patients fast enough to save lives.

Unhindered Access, Anywhere

In many parts of the world, such as Africa, access to proper medical care is hampered by many conditions related to infrastructure. Timothy Amukele, a pathologist with John Hopkins University who has worked with health care centers and hospitals in Uganda and other parts of Africa, talks about how poor access to proper health care – including diagnosis and lab tests, is a major cause of suffering and death of patients in rural areas. Medical personnel present in such disadvantaged areas are often limited in their capabilities by these conditions. Drones can get into almost any location, rural or otherwise, requiring only a small patch of open ground for landing and lifting off.

Lowered Cost of Medical Care

According to research cited by Timothy Amukele, getting medical supplies and samples to and from rural areas is very expensive. This in turn results in high cost of medicines and medical care. With the reduction in costs from using drones, it is much cheaper to transport the supplies, and care for the patients. This would go a long way to developing a healthier society, especially in third world countries.


A major constraint of using drones in medical supply is related to the takeoff and landing procedure which may jar the supplies or samples within the package and denature or spoil them. The solution to this is a likely modification of the hardware, and this will not be too far off into the future. Legislation to allow commercial drone flights within residential areas is underway, with the success of the drone delivery in Virginia earlier this year, where packages weighing 4.5kg were transported in 3 minutes over a distance of about 1.5 miles. The evidence is clear that unmanned transport of medical supplies would revolutionize medical care and provide better conditions for millions of people.

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Online crowdsourcing is a means to harness the combined knowledge of the crowd in order to arrive at solutions. It is understandable how crowdsourcing for medical diagnosis and advice came into being. Medicine in our current day is extremely specialized. There are many thousands of conditions and diseases, and doctors no longer have the comprehensive medical knowledge to recognize everything.

As reported in an article on Med Gadget, Jared Heyman, founder of the CrowdMed online medical crowdsourcing platform, claims that by the time the average patient comes to his site, he or she has seen 8 doctors during 6 years of illness and incurred more than $50,000 in medical expenses in an effort to have the condition correctly diagnosed and treated. Mr. Heyman also claims an 80% success rate for the accuracy of the diagnosis and treatment suggestions his site provides.

Nevertheless, there may be dangers associated with medical crowdsourcing. According to an article on Popular Science, the advice patients receive may not be accurate or even professional. The article states that CrowdMed patients pay a subscription fee to post their case histories and medical data anonymously on the site, after which “Medical Detectives” read the cases and interact with the patients directly. The site then uses patented methods to filter the input and produce a report for the patient, highlighting the top diagnosis and treatment suggestions from the highest rated Medical Detectives.

The problem is that these high-ranking Medical Detectives could be qualified physicians (who, nevertheless, have not personally examined the patient) or just average people with no medical credentials whatsoever. In the CrowdMed platform, Medical Detectives are ranked according to points they are awarded for contributing useful suggestions as to diagnosis and treatment, as reported by Popular Science. The article raises the question of whether CrowdMed’s platform could be construed as unauthorized practice of medicine.

Medical crowdsourcing does serve a purpose. HIT Consultant reports on a primary care physician who saved a young boy’s life by crowdsourcing on Sermo, a social networking site for doctors. The boy coughed up a branch-like mass that the physician did not recognize. Instead of waiting for lab results, the doctor posted a picture on Sermo, requesting insight from specialists and colleagues. Because of the diagnostic and treatment suggestions he received from other doctors, the physician promptly referred his patient to a cardiologist, who treated the young boy within two days and saved his life.

The situation described above involves doctors crowdsourcing from other doctors – not just any medically untrained individual. CrowdMed may provide a valuable service presenting diagnosis and treatment options in the form of suggestions only. Patients do need to be informed and have some input and control over their own bodies. Unfortunately, however, some patients may take these online suggestions as a valid medical diagnosis and advice. For valid medical care, it is important to consult with your own qualified physician with a hands-on, in-person, thorough medical examination.

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Getting a CT scan, CAT scan, or MRI? You may have health concerns, but it is not likely you have considered the fact that these devices can be hacked, and pose a risk to the security of your personal data. Medical devices are a weak link in the cyber security of hospitals, clinics and other facilities that use these devices, as reported by Computer World.

The information gained by hijackers in hacking hospital systems can a technical “backdoor” through which other hospital data can be accessed – including all of your personal and medical information. You have provided the medical facility with your name, date of birth, social security number, and your medical history. Hijacks of medical devices are a very real threat to the security of personal information, as these system traditionally operate on older, insecure platforms.

You have every reason to be worried about your personal information becoming available to hackers if you are getting any medical tests, including X-rays, or will be undergoing surgery. The devices used in these procedures create a backdoor through which hackers have been found to gain access other hospital data that is secured by a firewall and advanced security software.

It appears that almost monthly, some new huge data breach is reported, the most recent being federal government employees, past and current, as well as large healthcare firms, Target and other large retailers, with hospitals and clinics a current target that has proven vulnerabilities.

Should you be worried? Yes. Has it already occurred? Possibly. Any person who has provided any information to a hospital, clinic, or other medical facility should be proactive and ensure that their accounts are monitored for illegal access, so it can be halted before any damage is done. Once a cyber-attack has occurred, and your personal data used to make purchases, open credit cards or access your bank accounts, it can be extremely difficult to resolve. As consumers, it is advised that all accounts are monitored by a reputable company that will alert you when suspicious activities are occurring.

As never before, our personal information is residing in many locations, including banks, credit card companies, retailers, at our place of employment, health insurance providers, and at the medical facilities where we go to attend to matters of health. Concerned about your personal data being stolen by hackers? This is just one more method by which these criminals can gain access to your personal information.

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Having healthy eyesight is one aspect of our lives that many of us take for granted. We rely so heavily on our eyesight every day that we can easily end up thinking about our vision as a part of our life that doesn’t need any special care. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Some of us are blessed with perfect vision, and many of us need corrective lenses for 20/20 eyesight, but we can all benefit from some tips on keeping our most precious sense working at its best.

Give Your Eyes a Rest

You wouldn’t stand up all day if you could help it, right? The muscles in your legs would end up tired and sore. So why would you submit your eyes to the same treatment?

Looking at a computer screen all day can put a significant strain on your eyes if you don’t give them a break. Follow the 20-20-20 rule. For every twenty minutes of screen time, take at least twenty seconds to look at an object twenty feet or more away from you.

This breaks up the periods of intense close-up focusing that your eyes are forced to do when you’re staring at a computer screen or even reading.

Shades On

Getting a bad sunburn during the summer is painful and harmful to your skin, but think about what that same sun exposure is potentially doing to your eyes. Too much UV exposure from the sun can contribute to macular degeneration and cataracts as you age, so think about investing in a pair of sunglasses that have both UVA and UVB protection.

Feed Your Eyes

Eating a well-balanced diet is important in maintaining healthy eyesight. Just like the rest of your body, your eyes benefit from a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables. Eating well also helps you maintain a healthy weight, and lowers your chances for type 2 diabetes—one of the leading causes of blindness in adults.

Quit Smoking

Just like eating well, smoking has an overall effect on your body, but in the opposite sense. You may not hear about smoking’s impact on vision as much as its other harmful effects, but smoking makes you more at risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.

If you are a smoker, quitting immediately is the best thing to do, and if you’ve never picked up a cigarette, don’t start now!

Safety First

It was only last year that the NHL made visors for hockey players mandatory, and we can’t help but wince at how long that took. Sports and work related eye injuries occur all the time, and never when you’re expecting them.

Stay safe and wear protective eyewear whenever you’re in an environment with a potential risk to your eyesight. After all, what’s more important—winning that pickup game or keeping your 20/20 vision?

Maintaining healthy eyesight isn’t the hardest thing in the world. It just takes a little thought and effort on your part. Your eyes give life to the world around you, so keep them in the best shape possible with just a few daily measures.



Emily Hunter crafts content on behalf of the LASIK eye surgeons at Eyecare 20/20. In her spare time, she cheers for Spirit of Atlanta, Carolina Crown and Phantom Regiment, creates her own sodas, and crushes tower defense games. Follow her on Twitter at @Emily2Zen

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