If you have a loved one in urgent care, or are now experiencing serious ill-health issues yourself, it would be wise to ensure a family member or significant other advocates on your behalf should health further deteriorate. Why? Because a well educated, informed and/or concerned family or significant other “often” can provide valuable medical information to the treating physician.
This becomes truer if your loved one is no longer able to make decisions and provide accurate medical information to medical staff. And in knowing ones medical history and current health profile “is” enough to save, or prolong life with the right advocacy skill sets! Don’t think so, you will want to reassess how you view the medical services applied within the disabled and senior citizen ranks. Why is that? Our medical service industry is built upon quick patient turnaround. This has mostly to do with the ever increasing costs and finite medical services-specialties, drugs and diagnosis technology resources. So as push comes to shove, making room for another patient becomes the status quo. It would be prudent to ensure your loved one receives the best treatment possible by advocating on their behalf. Senior citizens don’t have the luxury of time on their side when it comes to accurate diagnosis and treatment.
There are limits to finite human resources and what can be provided, or expected under emergency circumstances in the ER scenario. And this is especially true if a patient intake area is under heavy demand. Tempers often run short and emotions are less than tempered. And the patient and family member expectation for immediate medical services is high.
This then requires the skill sets of a “cool head” and “experienced” family medical advocate to understand the situation and communicate accurate medical information on a loved one’s behalf. I know, the typical patient expectation is that the medical staff knows best. But even under the best case scenarios, vitals will not tell staff the entire medical history of a complex ill-health condition(s). And this becomes even truer if the patient’s primary care physician is not available for an immediate consultation with medical emergency staff.
At a minimum, if you are designated as the families medical advocate for a loved one: Ensure you have medical insurance information, a contacts list of patient doctors and specialists and a list of current medications on hand. It would also be good to carry a current medical history transcript for the patient. Or if you have power of attorney, simply go to the hospital’s medical records, request patient documents for the current year and ensure you highlight (yellow marker) the recent diagnosis, treatment and drug prescription listed on the medical transcripts. Also arrange if you’re going to be out of town, or on vacation to provide an envelope with the patient’s medical transcripts and other information to an alternate family advocate as a backup plan.
Contact listing and medical transcripts are good. But it would be better if the family advocate could obtain some level of knowledge on how their loved one’s chosen HMO is organized at the emergency triage, patient holding and in-patient intake services. Without this understanding, you’re missing pieces of the puzzle in advocating for the best possible care. It also helps to have some customer service skill sets in talking to the doctors assessing the situation as they are now making decisions on treatment to stabilize. In other words, if you have a choice of a family member advocate, ensure they are customer service oriented. A bull in a china shop mentality will not help matters.
So I put this question in front of you… How could the emergency intake personnel know about a complex medical history simply based on the current vitals and symptoms that got the patient admitted? The answer is simple, they can’t. They read the vitals, treat the symptoms to stabilize and then depend on information the patient or family advocate, or primary care physician provides. The goal of ER medical personnel is to stabilize the patient. Until other information on the patient is received; lab work and other referred medical services are initiated while the patient waits further results processing in patient holding.
If the seriousness of your hidden medical condition is an underlying unknown to the medical staff and treating physician, you’re “now” stable vitals will move you to a lower triage priority category while waiting on various lab results in patient holding. A good example I know almost everyone can relate if you’ve gone through urgent care: If you are stable, you’ve experienced hours before you are passed through the next phase of treatment. And this delay in medical treatment for many disabled, or our senior citizens is not good for their overall health outcome!
If you depend solely on the subjective judgment of an examining doctor, including your primary care physician, you’ll be treated by their understanding of the current symptomatic, physical examination, lab results, x-Rays, etc. And this may not be in the patient’s or your family’s best interest. It would behoove the family advocate, or patient learn as much about the ill-health condition(s), HMO policy’s and medical organization services; and armed with past and current medical information to become a part of the treating physicians decision making process. Without this advocacy resource plan a loved one and/or family members may experience more pain and suffering that need not be.
Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET. 2011 Copyright, All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.com, Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.