Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Your care is fragmented, here’s how to fix it

From the 4 April 2011 post by BARBARA BRONSON GRAY, RN at KevinMD.com

…The more complicated your problems, the more fragmented your care will be. The average Medicare patient sees two physicians and five specialists a year, (according to The Fragmentation of American Health Care: Cases and Solutions, edited by Einer Elhage). Those with a chronic illness see an average of 13 physicians a year. A Medicare patient with coronary artery disease sees ten physicians in six distinct practices annually. Indeed, the more physicians following someone after a heart attack, the lower the survival rates.

It’s important you know that there is no little Tinkerbell picking up your medical records and automatically delivering them to the physicians in your life who should know what’s happening with you. Consider yourself the the person most responsible to collect written updates, copies of test results and lists of new and changed medications and get them to all your other healthcare providers.

What can you do?

When you get a test result, procedure or have surgery, get the summary in writing, keep a copy, and send or bring copies to all your other healthcare providers. Attach a simple note: “Wanted to keep you up- to-date on my health status. Please put this in my chart.” If it’s an important healthcare issue, be sure to bring up the data or  problem at your next visit and mention that you sent a written summary for inclusion in your medical record.
Keep a list of all your medications and update it any time a healthcare provider adds or deletes a drug or changes a dosage. Bring a copy of that list to your medical appointments and to the emergency room if you end up there.
Don’t leave your dentist or your optometrist/ophthalmologist out of the loop. They need to know the details of your general health status. It will help them diagnose and treat any issues they may identify with you. Be sure they know if you have any infections, immune issues, heart problems, chronic conditions or are taking blood thinners or antibiotics, as well as other medications.
If you have a test or procedure and you do not hear the results soon afterwards, do not assume the results were normal. Call the healthcare provider who ordered the test and ask the office staff to email or send you a written copy of the test summary. Keep a copy in your own “medical updates” file. If the test was indeed OK, you still should have copy for reference at a later time, if needed.

If you or someone you love ends up in the hospital, your role of communicator will be even more vital. Often multiple consulting physicians — specialists — are called by the admitting physician to weigh in on issues and questions that develop while you’re in the hospital. They don’t always talk to each other or even realize who has changed or added a medication, who has ordered a test, or what results are in. The more you communicate the better. If you are being asked to go back for a test you already had or if you have questions about what is happening, don’t assume someone at the “nurses’ station” has it all managed. Ask questions and be sure you understand what tests you’re getting and why. If you are being discharged from the hospital ask for the results of any tests or procedures you had in the hospital.

Related Resources

April 7, 2012 - Posted by | health care | , , , , , ,

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