Elizabeth Cohen, author of The Enpowered Patient and CNN’s senior medical correspondent, has written a book which is a must-read for everyone interested in being in control of their own and their loved ones health care. Sanjay Gupta, MD and chief medical correspondent for the Health, Medical and Wellness Unit at CNN, states that this is “a book no household should be without.”
The book starts out like a thriller as Cohen relates in her introduction the terrifying story of what she went through in the hospital four days after the birth of her third daughter, Shir. Two days after her birth, Shir had suffered a series of seizures. She was immediately whisked up to NICU and given barbituates that left her in a barbituate-induced deep, deep sleep. Along with daily blood tests and urine tests, Shir underwent a risky and painful spinal tap every day to retrieve fluids. After several days of this the doctors determined that the seizures were a fluke and would not likely occur again. They told Cohen that they were immediately stopping all these treatments and medicines and that she would see a new baby in the morning, awake and with the needles removed. Excited to finally see her new baby fully awake and off all medications she rushed to the ICU the next morning but to her shock her baby was still like a rag doll and had not been taken off of any of her medications. Shir had already been given another spinal tap that was unsuccessful because she was dehydrated and was going to be given another one in an hour. The nurse told her that she had received no orders the night before to change any of the treatment and that they were going to go ahead and give her the spinal tap. She refused to call the doctor and kicked Cohen out of the ICU. Luckily, a nurse saw her crying, found out what was going on and immediately went to the ICU and resolved the situation.
This is only one example of what mistakes can occur if a person isn’t on top of their own or a loved ones medical treatment. Each year some 98,000 Americans die from medical mistakes in the hospital. And when you go to the doctor, studies show that the diagnosis will be wrong as many as one out of every four times. When you have a specimen sent to the lab after a biopsy, more than one times out of ten the pathologist in the lab will make the wrong call.
Chapters in The Empowered Patient cover such topics as, How to Find Dr. Right and How to Fire Dr. Wrong, How to Avoid a Misdiagnosis, How to Get Good Drugs Cheap, Why it is Important to get a Second Opinion, How Not to be Afraid to Question your Doctors Advise, How to Become an Internet MD, and How Not to Leave a Doctor’s Appointment saying “Huh.” Suggestions on how to battle your insurance company and Dennis Quaid’s tips on how not to let the hospital kill you along with Howie Mandell’s handwashing advice are also included.
I recommend this as a quick, easy read full of lots of important information. Hopefully it will make readers become more "empowered patients" who are taking charge of their medical care by educating themselves about their doctors, the treatments and tests suggested, as well as medicines prescribed.