It was 18 months ago. Dad is very ill and hospitalized – for two and half months. As a former ICU RN with years of experience, I shared “shifts” with his wife and we stayed with Dad 24 hours a day. I found the experience from a patient perspective to be very eye-opening and at times, down-right scary. The care was compassionate and kind – but the medical errors were also very common. Wrong patient, wrong medication, overlooked or misplaced critical lab results, mislabeled and lost lab specimens – and more.
The importance of patient engagement simply cannot be overemphasized. While the doctor may know more about some things, wise healthcare professionals also recognize that blindly conceding the doctor (or any caregiver) always knows best, is not a valid assumption.
Patients are capable of contributing substantially to appropriate decision making in healthcare. This has been demonstrated in studies showing patient acceptance and involvement with their own online medical records, participation during bedside “hand-offs” of report between oncoming and off going nurses, independent research on the Internet regarding various treatment options, and their ability to speak up and ask questions.
There is no application for old thinking that does not involve patients in their care. Lack of patient engagement hinders patient compliance, innovation, appropriate treatment, promotes patient apathy, and most notably endangers safety.
Neither doctors or patients can know everything, but together they can determine the best path to health. Patients must be considered partners within the infinitely complex and changing world of healthcare. Get involved and speak up. Your best health depends upon YOU.
Dad turned 88 years old this March. He rode his bicycle seven miles to celebrate!