Saturday, February 16, 2013

Are we empowered yet?

This has been a hot topic for years now, patient empowerment. Do you really know what it is? I found a definition on Navigating Cancer this says:

"Patient Empowerment involves active participation by the patient working in partnership with a healthcare team to receive the best care.

Patient empowerment begins with leaning about one’s own illness or condition, and participating in treatment decisions. It continues as a process, first by keeping a full and comprehensive record of one’s own medical history. Diagnosis, treatments, and medications are tracked by the patient, as well as symptoms and treatment side effects.

Through the process of patient empowerment, patients openly communicate with their healthcare team, contributing to the whole picture and individualizing care. In doing so, physicians are encouraged and enabled to provide optimal care in partnership with their patients."

I think I became empowered years ago. Back in the 1980s when I was younger, I didn't ask as many questions but you can be sure by the 1990s I was good at asking questions and learning. By the mid 2000s, I was on top of it because I had my friends, the internet and Dr. Google.

I now have rules for myself that I think should apply to everyone:
  1. You can't have an ailment unless you can spell, pronounce, and define it.
  2. You can't be on a medication without being able to spell, pronounce it, and understand the big things it does, why you are on the dose you are, and what are the main side effects of which  to be concerned.
  3. You must be able to talk to your doctors about what you have and how you are doing and not blindly follow their advice like a lemming.
  4. Finally, you must be comfortable with your treatment plan.
 If you aren't empowered its time to get to work.

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