I work as an R.N. in both E.R. and I.C.U. settings. It constantly amazes (and frustrates doctors and nurses) that people are not accountable for their medical use. When some one has a chronic condition that they purposefully do not take care of or they have a problem that has been with them for awhile (time changes by medical condition) and just felt like coming in that day is hard for us to relate to.
As relates to your writing please consider writing on subjects of how much can be taken care of at home with over the counter medications.
Some days a full 1/3 of my patients could have avoided a hospital visit by staying well hydrated (and/or peeing often). This includes dehydration, kidney stones, urinary tract infections, and elevated blood sugar. Another good percentage could avoid being sick if they they just washed their hands. This includes flu, colds, pink eye, gastro-interitus, etc. You could give lots of good advice that keep people out of the poor house due to a normal $800 (min) cost of visit to the emergency department for those that actually pay.
Good “talking” with you. Please keep up the increasingly professional work you are doing. Also, I did not write this for print, but you may paraphrase. Thank you.
Hi Tom, thanks for your email. You bring up several interesting and valuable points.
I did notice that as well, that a significant amount of medical complications either start or evolve into more serious ones because of the patient’s ignorance.
Drinking lots of water: As Tom says, staying hydrated. To begin with, most people simply don’t drink enough water as it is. If urine isn’t clear, then you’re dehydrated to some degree. Drinking more water makes you feel better, think better and feel less hungry. People often confuse thirst with hunger. I found out that drinking a couple more liters a day than I normally would helps a lot to accelerate the flu process and reduce the sinuses inflammation and that puffy face feeling.
Washing your hands: Did our grandparents know what they were talking about! Dirty hands when grabbing a quick bite may be one of the most common ways in which people catch bugs that they could have avoided, but its not only that, the average person touches his face three times every waking minute. Its impossible to know what critter came in contact that surface you are now touching or if a plumber just fixed one of the bathrooms in your office building and touched the elevator’s buttons. Wash your hands often, especially before eating and carry with you hand sanitizer for when soap and water aren’t available.
Don’t self medicate! I admit that I take aspirin or ibuprofen when they situation call for it and that would be self medicating, but some people take it to dangerous levels. Aspirin during headaches is one thing, but popping sleeping pills, painkillers and other strong drugs all day can be dangerous. Its always better to check with a doctor, avoid self-diagnoses and if you do take medications on your own, stick to the ones you know well enough and are available across the counter. I’m surprised by the amount of people that will take very strong prescription medications for certain symptoms when there’s less risky options available.
Go to the doctor: How simple can that be? But people will often wait, hoping problems will go away on its own or just ignore doctor’s recommendations all together. If something hurts, or if your body starts failing in some other way, then you need to know what’s going on. Problems rarely disappear on its own, rather they are symptoms of complications likely to get worse rather than better. Infections and wounds that haven’t been sanitized are a good example. I just talked with a friend over the phone that called after having some of his wound dressings replaced in the hospital (bike accident). These treatments can be very painful, but leaving them be can be dangerous since a spreading infection can end up in amputation or death.
Ask for a second opinion: If you don’t like what a doctor tells you, there’s nothing wrong with getting a second opinion. If he says the same as the previous one you have a better idea of how accurate the first diagnose was, if not you may avoid problem. I’ve had doctors recommend surgery and treatments that weren’t really needed. I suppose it happened to others too. As with everything else, unscrupulous doctors will try to make the extra buck (or thousand) at your expenses. Tough economic times bring the worst out of people of all walks of life and this is no different. A second opinion, especially from someone you can trust like friends or family members is important.