For many of us, hospitals are unfamiliar territory, and doctor-speak can sound like a foreign language. But according to healthcare ethicist Dr. Mark Meaney, if you want the best healthcare possible, you need to be a smart patient. Dr. Oz talks to Dr. Meaney, president and CEO of the National Institute for Patient Rights, about some common dilemmas patients may encounter within the healthcare system and how to deal with them.
Dr. Meaney says the three main problems both patients and healthcare providers face are miscommunication, conflict and medical error. With that in mind, he says patients cannot surrender their healthcare to someone else. "We want to help them identify resources to clear up problems with communication, mediate and resolve conflicts and deal with medical error," he says.
One way patients and their families can empower themselves is by taking advantage of the various resources available to them in hospitals, Dr. Meaney says, so they can be better served by their doctors. "We try to help patients and their families uncover hidden resources in hospitals whereby they can assert their rights without necessarily alienating their providers," he says.
One largely untapped resource are people in hospital settings who Dr. Meaney calls "embedded lay persons"—individuals such as hospital chaplains, case managers or social workers who can help guide patients during their stay. Dr. Meaney says these individuals—who provide their services at no additional cost to the patient—are experts at communicating your needs, mediating conflicts and helping you make informed decisions.
Published on July 06, 2007