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Thursday, May 26, 2011

After everyone had left: Choosing an Emergency Room

The day after my daughter's Bat Mitzvah in Boston, after everyone had left, my mother asked me if I'd bring her to the Emergency Room. She'd been having pain radiate down her neck. She'd waited until then to ask because she didn't want to ruin my daughter's special day. I wanted the best care for her, and wanted her to get it quickly. She wanted to catch a train to NYC to see an old friend. I called 2 E.R.s to find out how long she'd have to wait. The shorter wait was at a very small community hospital in our suburban home town. I asked the E.R. for their FAX number, and in the car on the way, I called my mother's doctor's office in Atlanta and asked them to FAX her problem list and medication list to the E.R. in Boston.

When we got to the E.R., the problem list and medication list were already there, and they quickly got her in to see a doctor. They gave her an EKG, X-rays, and blood tests to rule out a stroke. And they arranged a specialist at a nearby Harvard teaching hospital to see her on a TV screen - a quick telemedicine consult.

They ruled out a stroke, gave her some quick education about the problem they'd discovered, so she WAS able to catch her train in time. The lessons?: Get an advocate who can put you first. Choose your E.R. Get them the critical information they need.

The stories in my book, Getting Your Best Health Care: Real-World Stories for Patient Empowerment, come from my personal experiences in my family, my professional work as a hospital consultant, and research for my blog. There are stories of famous doctors who've been patients, and what we can learn from them. There are stories about the health crises of celebrities and public figures, and what we can learn from them.

I've been working for 15 years as a consultant in helping hospitals prevent medical errors, and improve the quality of care. When my father-in-law died from a medical error in 2002, it changed me. I later began writing stories to educate and empower and warn people in Patient Safety Blog. So my interest was first professional, then very painfully personal, and then professional in a different direction, as a patient advocate.

Now my work enables people to partner with their doctors, to get the best patient-centered care.

1 comment:

Dial Doctors said...

Happy to hear everything went well! Even happier that telemedicine helped you in this case. We're using telemedicine to provide health care so it's always nice to see it around.

When you called your primary doctor and asked him to fax over the info that was telemedicine too. Happy to see how much it can do