Posts made in October, 2015


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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