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Mistakes are Made by Even the Best Hospitals

April 2nd, 2016

News broke in September, 2014 that a laboratory technician at Hershey Medical Center failed to follow proper procedures when conducting a genetic test used to help physicians decide on cancer treatments, affecting the test results of 124 patients. As a private nurse advocate, I have seen more flawed lab tests than I care to admit. Usually they are a result of human error but when you are having testing that will ultimately determine a treatment option, always ask for a second opinion at a different facility. You want to trust your physician and your favorite hospital but you need to know that mistakes are made by even the best health care providers. Consult a private patient who will work for you and only you. Their advice will not be restrained by a particular hospital, insurance company, or drug company. A private advocate works for you and only you.

How to Choose a Good Nursing Home

March 15th, 2016

When you are looking for a nursing home it’s important to do your homework and then to have a regular, visible advocate for your family member. It’s much easier to find a suitable facility if you don’t wait until there is a crisis. If a relative needs long-term care, consider moving them closer to your home. If that is not an option locate a private patient advocate in the area to be your eyes and ears. Start your research by asking friends and relatives if they have a loved one in a nursing home and why they chose that particular facility. If that’s not a option go online to Nursing Home Compare, a federal government site that rates local nursing homes. You can also go online to the state health department and look at the “nursing care facility locator page.” Check the Home’s survey results and compare. Always take a tour and not one you schedule. You should drop in unannounced to see what is really going on. If you are interested after your secret shopper tour, schedule an appointment. Ask about staffing ratios, watch how staff interact with the residents, look at the activity calendar, look at the menu and look at the food they are serving and how it is served. Visit regularly and go at different times, including weekends. A particularly telling time can be at night, after administrators have gone home. Ask questions if you have concerns. If you can’t resolve problems or issues, seek help from an ombudsman from the Office of Aging. The service is free.

Errors in Healthcare: Facts You Should Know

February 24th, 2016

Did you know that approximately 33 percent of hospital admissions encounter healthcare errors during their stay. An estimated 130,000 hospitalized Medicare patients experienced adverse events every month! A private patient advocate has knowledge of the system and can help you to take charge of your healthcare regardless of where you are being treated. Knowledge is power and knowledge can help you to limit the chances that you will become one of the 33 percent. Read the rest of this entry »

Older Adults and NSAIDS: Avoiding Adverse Reactions

September 18th, 2015

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDS are a common over the counter drug that is used by many adults. They reduce inflammation but are not as dangerous as steroidal drugs that also reduce inflammation but require a prescription from your doctor. Some examples of popular NSAIDS include Motrin, Ibuprofen, Aleve, Celebrex, Naproxen,and Advil but there are literally hundreds of NSAIDS on the market. Most people take NSAIDS for common ailments like arthritic pain, headaches, post-operative pain, and general analgesia. What most people may not know is that even when taken correctly, these drugs can harm the elderly because of normal changes that occur as people age.

Because of common geriatric ailments, such as osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease, NSAIDs are necessary, and they effectively relieve pain in the elderly. Unfortunately, NSAIDs can also potentiate, increase, or decrease the effect of many prescription drugs that this population takes. The most common and deadliest interactions are with anticoagulants, oral hypoglycemics, diuretics, and antihypertensives. One study concluded that aspirin, NSAIDs, and cardiovascular drugs caused 91% of the adverse drug reactions necessitating hospital admissions.

NSAIDs may have central and peripheral actions and this may contribute to falls. At least 16,500 NSAID-related deaths occur each year in the United States among patients with osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, making this the 15th most common cause of death in this country. NSAIDs are associated with more adverse gastrointestinal effects than any other drug class. Roughly 20% of hospital admissions for bleeding ulcers in patients older than 60 years of age are the result of NSAID usage. The use of NSAIDs themselves may cause heart failure in geriatric patients and should be used with extreme caution in people with pre-existing heart disease.

It is important to notify your physician about all of your medications, including over the counter medications and vitamins. Because all medications are metabolized in the liver, you should never start you start a new medication without consulting a healthcare professional. Even foods can interfere with the metabolism of some drugs. Over the counter drugs have real risks for everyone but especially the elderly. Knowledge is the key to maintaining a healthy, happy lifestyle.