Author: Dr. Julia A. Hallisy
Author: Dr. Julia A. Hallisy
“Dr. Julia Bajone Hallisy has practiced general dentistry in San Francisco, California since 1988. Her second child, Katherine Eileen, was born in 1989 with bilateral retinoblastoma. The treatment for the malignant tumors involved a ten-year immersion in the American health care system. Kate lost her life-long battle with cancer in February 2000. Dr. Hallisby’s decade of first-hand experience with the dangers and deficiencies in our medical system, combined with her scientific training and profession as a health care provider, gave her the ability to gather a vast amount of vitally important information for all medical patients.”
The book, The Empowered Patient should be handed out at the reception desk at every hospital and clinic. In fact, I would go so far to say that every person receiving a medical degree should be handed a copy of this book, as well. If you have not picked up your copy, you would benefit by doing so immediately – before you begin your journey into the health care world – as a provider or a patient.
Your healthcare team is important. It used to be that one doctor handled a variety of health care matters. Now, we need a team to manage our illnesses. Today, everyone has a small piece of the puzzle – house staff, attending physicians, fellows, intern/residents, hospitalists, medical students, registered nurses, nursing supervisors, charge nurses, nurse managers, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, LPNs, unlicensed assistive personnel (UAP), etc. Until I read this book, I hadn’t realized how the medical team now resembles the Verizon commercials. It is important to know what each of these specialists do, what their limitations are, so you will know who best may answer your particular questions/concerns and address your needs.
Medical errors, according to http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/11856.php, claimed 195,000 lives each in the years 2000, 2001, and 2002 – due to “potentially preventable” medical errors. While in 2004, it is estimated that over 2 million acquired hospital infections (infections that were not there before entering the hospital for care) [http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/11856.php
Hallisy addresses both of these topics, offering precautions and ways to protect ourselves from harm. We are less helpless when armed with information such as: should you require a diagnostic test and your insurance company refuses payment, pay for it (an ounce of prevention) and fight with them later (could be the pound of cure). Be sure to have your test results double checked – and make sure all test results and accurate information is in your file. Also, get a second opinion and be vigilant in your healthcare.
If the side effects of a medication are worse than the ailment – ask about alternatives. If the doctor says this is all he/she can do for you – look elsewhere. If the reality isn’t meeting your expectations – communicate your concerns. On page 231, Hallisy has a diagram of where you should start the communication process and where you can go should your concerns not be addressed to your satisfaction.
“Medical Records – The Playbook of Your Life.” Know who is looking into your case, learn the hospital’s official policy on medical records, make copies for files should you need them in an emergency, and know your rights.
Informed consent should be an important area of interest for patients and physicians. Read the consent forms you will need to sign. Understand what you are agreeing to and change the form to suit your needs, if necessary. It may be that by signing a regular consent form you are giving the doctor carte blanche. Insist on having all of your questions and concerns addressed – it is your right. Learn if your surgery will be a “ghost surgery” – where your surgeon may delegate part of the surgery to others. Get the names and credentials of each person that will be in the surgical theatre – only having all the information will allow you to make informed decisions about your healthcare.
Dr. Hallisy goes into your rights and responsibilities – making you more than informed enough to be a proactive patient.