It wasn’t too long ago that getting sick meant going to the doctor, listening to your physician tell you what was wrong with you, and then obediently taking your prescription to the pharmacy to be filled. For anyone to even think about questioning the “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” advice was just unheard of. The doctors went to medical school and know everything, and we as patients didn’t need to educate ourselves about our own bodies or question their diagnoses, right?
Of course, the answer to that question is a really loud “Wrong!!!” Nowadays it’s pretty common for people to head to their appointments armed with books or printouts about their symptoms and for patients to even suggest other treatment choices and/or really want to discuss their options with their doctors.
In other words, patients are beginning to feel empowered. Of course here at this website I’ve added an “H” and made it “EmpowHered,” because my focus is mostly on women advocating for and educating themselves about their health, but it’s definitely something that both men and women can and should be doing.
Other ways that we can empower ourselves as patients is to make sure we have all information necessary before deciding on what procedures and/or medications we will have. It would be nice to not feel rushed by our doctors when at all possible.
This got me to thinking…even though more and more of us are empowering ourselves when we become sick, are there any doctor’s offices or hospitals or treatment centers that also believe in this practice? In other words, should you become ill and go in for an appointment, could you find a physician who is ready and willing to discuss your treatment and educate you about everything you need to know?
A quick Googling of “patient empowerment” brought up a long list of websites that are devoted to this topic. Several are actual medical facilities that practice this everyday with their clients.
The National Brain Aneurysm Center in Minnesota has a page on their website devoted to this topic: www.brainaneurysmcenter.org/aneurysm_patient_empowerment.php
So does the Cancer Treatment Centers of America website: www.cancercenter.com/about-us/philosophy.cfm
And The Kidney Cancer Association had some good information too on the topic: www.kidneycancer.org/knowledge/live/patient-empowerment They are not a treatment facility but as a national organization dedicated to helping people with kidney cancer it’s great that they believe in patient empowerment.
I was so happy to see that so many websites, organizations and facilities are thinking about patient empowerment. I really do believe that if we can maintain some control over our own health and what is happening to us, it will really help us feel better and probably heal faster too when faced with a major health challenge. Being told “you have cancer” or “you have heart disease” can shake you to the very core and make you feel like all control is gone. But patient empowerment can help get it back.
What are some of the ways you’ve empowered yourself? Has your doctor been open to your questions and suggestions about your care?
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