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October 23, 2012
Have you ever had an urge to ask a question, but for whatever reason, shied away from sharing it? Some occurrences warrant that we speak up and make our voices heard, especially when it comes to our health. Patient Power contributor, Christopher Springmann, uses the simple example of hand-washing and making sure those around you also do what’s necessary to protect your health.
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Hello, I’m Christopher Springmann for Patient Power.
Did you wash your hands before watching this video. Well, that would be silly. But have you ever asked your physician to
wash their hands, in your presence, before they examine . .. you?
Now that’s not silly, in fact, that is a reasonable, minimal
expectation you should have as a patient, especially considering that hospital
acquired infections result in thousands of avoidable deaths every year.
One of my favorite physicians, Dr. Orly Avitzur, a
neurologist and medical advisor to Consumer Reports magazine, told me that in
twenty years of practicing medicine, she has never been asked to wash her
hands. She attributes this to less than
powerful patients letting their fears of offending the doctor get in the way of
what they know is right.
So, Dr. Avitzur says, don’t pay the price of being nice when
it’s inappropriate, that the doctor-patient interaction or transaction has only
one purpose – to protect your health, so being assertive and asking reasonable
questions of your doctor is not the same as being rude.
We’re all consumers and healthcare is expensive, so, for
example, if you are concerned about the cost of the name-brand pharmaceuticals
your physician is prescribing, say something. .. find out if there’s a less-expensive generic
alternative that works just as well.
That’s also an important economic precedent to set with your healthcare
provider - talking about money, candidly, right up front.
And, yes, I take my own advice. In fact, I have trained my dermatologist
quite well. As soon as she walks in the
door of the exam room, I raise my hands and point to the sink. She always laughs, but washes her hands, puts
on gloves and then continues her never-ending search for skin cancer.
So, don’t pay the price of being too nice . . . speak up for
yourself. If you don’t, who will?
You’ve heard what I think, I’d like to hear what you think -
email me at comments at patient power dot info.
I’m Christopher Springmann for Patient Power, reminding you
that knowledge can be the best medicine of all . . . . .
Thanks for watching.
By Andrew Schorr