By Janet Hurley, M.D.
Having been a patient not too long ago, I am convinced that doctors should be patients more often. As we continue to talk more in health care about “patient-centeredness” and the “patient experience,” I have a few thoughts on things I learned during my convalescence period after a tonsillectomy in 2009.
- My surgeon, my anesthesiologist, and the surgical center staff were GREAT. As providers, the things we do become routine to us, but to patients they are extraordinary. Taking the time to explain a procedure carefully and thoughtfully can make a big difference.
- Follow directions. Patient handouts have important information in them and the treatment team knows what they’re doing. I must remember to listen to their advice and review the patient materials when I have questions.
- Don’t be your own doctor! If you have questions about medications or symptoms, ASK SOMEONE ELSE. You may choose to be a highly educated patient, but not your own doctor.
- I am not too tough for pain medications. While I dislike the mental fogginess they create, I had to keep in mind steps I prescribe to my patients—maintain better hydration, better nutrition, and keep my throat moist—to make myself more comfortable.
- I will never even think about accessing my Electronic Medical Record from home until fully off narcotics. Impairment was obvious.
- When on narcotics, I communicate better with my fingers than my tongue. You can’t rush recovery, even when you know you have important work to do. E-mail communication with others kept me connected when my speech was slurred and my throat hurt.
- I have great clinic coverage partners. I had no worries about who would check my messages, approve refill requests, and see my patients when I was out. We must remember that good patient care during such times requires that we receive help from our colleagues.
- Don’t undervalue the significance of family and friends. I am grateful to my husband who took care of our kids and took care of me, and the friends and neighbors who looked for ways to help out during my recovery. It’s okay to lean on those closest to you in times of need!
Now that the 12 members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction have begun meeting to develop a plan to trim at least $1.2 trillion in federal spending, advocacy groups and politicos have ramped up their effort to influence what goes on to and what stays off of the chopping block.
Since our last blog post, AAFP has taken significant steps to encourage the supercommittee to avoid making damaging cuts to Medicare and graduate medical education. AAFP met with representatives from seven medical societies and seven professional organizations on Sept. 7 to develop a unified strategy for the house of medicine, with AAFP still holding strong to the position that the SGR should be repealed or, barring that, the committee should enact a five-year Medicare payment fix that includes a 3-percent higher payment rate for primary care physicians.
During this week’s Congress of Delegates meeting, AAFP launched a grassroots campaign that calls for AAFP Delegates and other members to send a letter to their Congressional representatives asking for immediate repeal of the SGR. AAFP already sent its own letter to the “super 12” on Aug. 10 outlining its asks, and the 12 AAFP state chapters in which a supercommittee member lives requested meetings with their super person during the Congressional recess that extended through Labor Day. Texas is, of course, home to committee co-chair U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, and Doug Curran, M.D., TAFP past president, current TMA board member, and constituent from Athens, has a meeting scheduled with the representative in the next couple of weeks.more