Taking Responsibility for Healthcare Decisions

March 24, 2008 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

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Most of us approach healthcare as if we were victims of getting sick, and as if it’s somebody else’s (usually the doctor’s) responsibility to fix us.

Think about it this way: My car has about 75,000 miles on it. Yes, once in awhile I get the oil changed. I even put new tires on it two years ago because the others were beginning to go bald. When the kid next door ran into it with his bike, I touched up the scratch marks to improve its appearance and to keep it from rusting. The air filter needed changing once, and I’ve replaced the brake pads twice. But now it’s making these really funny coughing noises when I turn on the ignition.

Is the mechanic’s fault my car is doing strange things? No.

Is it up to the mechanic to fix it? Well — I’m going to ask him to.

Do I trust my mechanic to take care of it? Yes — but before he begins racking up my repair bill, I expect him to tell me what’s wrong and to give me the options for fixing it. If it gets too expensive, I want the option to say no — and perhaps to trade it in for a new car.

Would I ever just take my car to the mechanic, tell him to do whatever he thinks needs to be done, and I’ll just pay whatever it takes to do it? No I wouldn’t!

As car owners, most of us take an active role in maintaining our cars, preventing problems with them, and making decisions about repairing or replacing them.

So why don’t most of us do the same as patients? Why do most of us simply default to whatever the doctor has to say?

We need a mindset shift — a new paradigm — that says that doctors and other healthcare providers are our resources — but they aren’t our decision-makers. Even more importantly than our cars, we need to step up the plate to help make decisions about our care.

We need to begin taking that responsibility for ourselves and not expect that we can get sick, or not take care of ourselves, and the provider will fix everything that’s wrong with us. We need to make up our minds that “I’ll do whatever you tell me, Doc” just isn’t good enough.

Afterall — doctors are really our body mechanics, right?

We begin with prevention and maintenance — doing those things we know are good for us (or, perhaps, just not very bad for us.) Eat right and well, get plenty of rest, exercise, reduce stress — just those basics we hear are good for us all the time.

Then, when we have challenges to our health, we need to go to our trusted doctor to partner with him or her to determine our correct diagnosis and choose the treatment option that works best for us.

Doctors are our body mechanics

It’s not difficult — but for most of us, it’s definitely different. As time goes on and I write more blog posts here, we’ll talk about all those considerations and how you can find a healthier approach to your own care — with a goal of staying strong and healthy for a long time to come.

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3 Responses to “Taking Responsibility for Healthcare Decisions”
  1. Truth says:

    Patients should take responsibility for THEIR choices. In regards to the CNN story and the patient TINA, she smoked against doctors orders and gained a bunch of weight after surgery. Instead of taking responsibility for her poor lifesyle choices and ignoring doctors orders, she decided to blame her doctor. When she found out her doctor had 2 DUI’s years prior to her surgery, she tried to use that as a way to get money. After she lost in court, she decided to seek revenge by badmouthing this good doctor. This doctor was NEVER impaired while treating any patients.

  2. Tina says:

    Other safeguards, check your doctor in Superior Court Records Case Index On-line in each county he works in, including the county he went to school. Check case index under criminal and civil. (search the county name and the superior court records case index; example: Sacramento Superior Court Records Case Index….services.saccourt.com/indexsearchnew/) And if possible go to the courthouse and read the civil case files. The civil case files may identify a similar problem that patients have had with the doctor in question. The criminal case file on-line may tell you what the arrest was for; if not, go to the courthouse and read that file too. Unfortunately, in our case (CNN Story – Addicted Docs) his DUIs were not and are still not posted on the Medical Board of CA’s website. DO NOT TRUST what you read on any medical board’s website. Check court records. Be safe and protect yourself and loved ones.

  3. T. L. Kittle says:

    I absolutely agree with you–people need to take more responsibility for their bodies, but at the same, we need better laws protecting physicians–right now, they’re being held accountable in courts of laws as the decision makers–“you’re the doctor, you should have known better”. While it’s true that physicians may know more about medicine, we know more about what’s happening with our bodies and therefore should have the ultimate control regarding what happens to us.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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