Health Organizing Tips (HOTips)
There are three basic states of health we flow in and out of throughout our
lives; wellness, acute illness and adaptation to a chronic disease
(diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, etc.). We hope to maintain a state of
well-being for long periods of time, but inevitably most of us will be
confronted with the other two conditions.
Knowledge is power, and information is very strong medicine. Knowing how to
acquire, understand, organize and appropriately act upon medical information
will lead to taking charge of your health: You will maintain wellness
longer, navigate acute illness more effectively, and negotiate chronic
illness with much less stress.
Throughout our lives we accumulate volumes of health-related information,
without delineating what is most important, when that data might be useful
and how we could quickly access it should the need arise. If you maintain
everything in a central place it will be much easier to find and share
information when necessary. In other words, Compile it and file it.
Lynda’s newspaper column, Mom’s Rx, provides health related information and
strategies on how to use this knowledge to your best advantage. It appears
weekly in the Albany Times Union, a Hearst publication. It can also be found
by logging on to
http://www.timesunion.com/healthystories then scrolling down to “Health
Organizing” to view a number of recent columns.
Here is a sampling of some Health Organizing Tips from recent columns:
The Doctor’s visit
When preparing your list of symptoms, use as much detail as possible. An
accurate diagnosis often depends on the completeness of what you report.
List everything – let the doctor decide what is relevant.
The “Group Room” is a nationally syndicated radio call-in talk show about
cancer; billed as the world’s largest cancer support group. It airs every
Sunday on XM satellite radio from 4-6 pm EST and 1-3pm PST. Go to
vitaloptions.org for local radio stations and other valuable information.
Giving Medications to Kids
Target, CVS and Rite Aid Drugs now provide a medication flavoring service
for a fee of approximately $3 per prescription. It is called Flavor Rx. Your
child can select from a variety of available flavors to make taking their
medication a little more palatable.
Emergency Room Visits
The ideal patient brings with them to the emergency room their complete
medical history, including blood type, allergies, an updated list of
medications and contact information for doctors who treat them. Click on
Info To Go, the complete medical chart that fits in your wallet, for
Your advocate should be very organized, comfortable around hospitals and
doctors, and able to be a calming force in times of crisis.
Choosing a Hospital
This year sixteen hospitals that appeared on the US News & World Report’s
list of America’s Best Hospitals earned “Honor Roll” status. This means they
achieved a high ranking in no fewer than six specialties. The top five
1) Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD
2) Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
3) UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
4) Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH
5) Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
When analyzing blood test results remember that testing labs use reference
ranges to determine what your results mean. These ranges should be used as
guidelines but what may be normal for one person might not be for another.
Age, sex, general health, weight and race may all have impact on these
results. Also remember that established guidelines vary from lab to lab. Let
your doctor help interpret the results.
Managing Your Medications
Never leave medicines in an automobile where heat can rapidly destroy the
drug. Periodically check expiration dates on your medicine bottles and flush
all expired medicines if you have children or pets that might get into
Choosing a Doctor
To find out if a doctor has been the subject of any disciplinary action, go
to www.docinfo.org. Operated by the Federation of State Medical Boards, this
site includes comprehensive information on disciplinary action taken
including, but not limited to, license revocation, probation and
suspensions. It notes the date of the action and the reasoning. There is a
fee for each physician inquiry.
If a research study is referenced, see if it appears on "Pubmed." Pubmed is
a site maintained by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National
Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). It allows public access to
NLM's Medline database which house articles from 4,500 journals from as far
back as 1966. Go to www.pubmed.gov to search the database. If the study is
not there, it probably was not published in a peer-review journal.
Preventing Medical Errors in Children
I have always kept a medical chart on my daughter at home. In addition to
accumulated copies of test results, blood work, treatment protocols and
research information, I kept a log of her actual response to treatment. This
is not as overwhelming as it initially sounds.
On lined paper I would jot down the date, the issue and information in
bullet form to summarize what was going on. For instance;
Leslie has had stomach pains. Took Biaxin for 5 days - no better
Switched to Cipro, 250mg 4 times/day she felt better after 2 days
What results from this over time is a compilation of her entire health
history which I can access much more quickly than the doctor. Compile the
information and file it in a section of your health care binder designated
for your child. Always remember that the doctor has hundreds of patients and
you have the ability to narrowly focus on your child or children. Be an
active participant in the medical care of your children.