The Empowered Patient

After her newborn daughter experienced unnecessary treatments in the NICU, CNN correspondent Elizabeth Cohen began a quest to empower patients to better navigate the health care system, encouraging us all to be vigilant, be educated, and listen to our bodies.

Elizabeth Cohen is senior medical correspondent for CNN’s Health, Medical and Wellness unit, reporting breaking medical news and health consumer reporting on CNN and CNN.com. Her signature digital column the Empowered Patient keeps consumers informed on how to ensure the best medical care for themselves and their families. Her book, THE EMPOWERED PATIENT: How to get the Right Diagnosis, Buy the Cheapest Drugs, Beat Your Insurance Company, and Get the Best Medical Care Every Time, was published in August 2010.

Where Does the Patient Fit?

Patient advocate Alan Blaustein visited a number of doctors, a handful of wrong diagnoses, and a dozen unnecessary prescriptions before finally being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Here, he shares his story and describes his hope for a reformed system and better communication among health providers in the near future.

Alan was diagnosed with thymic cancer in 2005. Since that time, he has focused much of his efforts on helping patients and caregivers make better decisions in the face of the healthcare system’s complexities. He has started a number of successful ventures (e.g., OpenSky.com) and spends as much time as he can on charitable activities (e.g., The Foundation for Thymic Cancer). Most importantly though, he is the father of three wonderful kids for whom he wants to set a lasting example of the right way to do things.

A Herd of Narcissists, Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about the relationship between narcissism and shame.  This brings me to my next point, which is that narcissists see themselves as “unique and special people.”

(Scroll down to get the rest of article.)

I’m looking at narcissism because I believe its submerged half, shame, is a shadowy but potent presence in many healthcare settings: its destructive force is shaping the behaviour of many working in the field.

I want to understand what went wrong with my mother’s journey through the healthcare system. I want to know why workers in it were so prone to lying, prevaricating and stonewalling. I would also like to know why advocating for my mother provoked so much anger and resentment.

I’m looking for answers because I am getting older and what I saw frightened me.

My mother’s journey started in an acute-care hospital. From there she went to a rehabilitation hospital, and from there she came to my home, where she lived for 20 months. She is now in a long-term care facility here in Montreal and is, for the most part, doing well. However, if you read Part 1 of this article, you will already know this wasn’t always the case.

Like many [...] continue the story

My Cancer Journey

My experience with cancer pushed me to make “consumer-driven” actually mean something in the healthcare industry. By Aimee Jungman

I’m a 42 year-old woman who has always been in good health. In April of ‘08, I started getting cramps in my stomach. They persisted for several weeks and occasionally were accompanied by sharp pains. This was unusual for my body. While on vacation, I admitted myself into a hospital emergency room (ER). The ER did blood work, a CT-scan, and an MRI, and said there was nothing seriously wrong. I just had a urinary tract infection (UTI) and a small cyst on my ovary that the doctor explained would go away on its own. The doctor prescribed medicine for the UTI and advised me to check in with my OB/GYN in a few months for a checkup.

What surprised me about the whole experience was that the clinical system seemed to dismiss my concern. As a woman who knows her own body, I was telling them something was wrong, but they told me I was overreacting. They were incredibly nonchalant and explained that female bodies were always changing due to hormones or menopause, that it can be hard for women to accept aging, [...] continue the story

Gut Inspired: Rob on being an advocate

Published on Apr 18, 2012 by GutInspired

Rob Hill is a member of Gut Inspired, living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD; Crohn’s Disease). He is sharing more about his experiences advocating for himself and others as well as actively managing his disease with his health care team. Rob knows the importance of communication and can better manage his symptoms because works together with specialists he trusts. Rob Hill works with the Intestinal Disease, Education and Awareness Society (IDEAS) raising awareness and sharing his experiences through Gut Inspired.

Please share this video with others who may live with IBD and encourage them to talk and learn more about their disease. To learn more about Gut Inspired and Rob’s story, please visit www.facebook.com/gutinspired