Become a Smart Patient
No smart detective would hang his whole investigation on a single witness' story without making sure it checked out. And no smart patient would hang her whole life on a single expert's judgment. Research has found that getting a second opinion results in a new diagnosis in as many as 30 percent of all cases, but shockingly, only 20 percent of patients get a second opinion.
When you consult a doctor for a second opinion, simply hand over the test results, give the facts of your case and let the doctors ask the questions. Do not say, "My doctor said I have this, but I have my doubts." That could bias the specialist.
Just What Gives You the Right?
When you're admitted to the hospital, you're given an armload of forms explaining your rights, but are you in the right state of mind to read them? That's just one of the reasons you need a health advocate—a trusted family member or friend—who will help you navigate the healthcare system and ask smart patient questions. Ask your healthcare advocate to dig through all the forms on your behalf.
What, Exactly, Is a Do-Not-Resuscitate Order?
Simply, this means that if your heart stops or you stop breathing, the medical staff won't try to revive you. You have to specifically ask for a DNR and put it in writing. Find a sample form online at JCInc.com and RealAge.com.
Know all your alternative options