I recently went to the library and found a book called The Empowered Patient. I started reading it today and would like to share with you a story and 3 important rules of being a "bad patient." It is my belief that we deserve the very best in health care, but sometimes we must speak up especially when the professional may not know it all.

Barbara & Stephanie: The Danger of being a "Good Patient"

Stephanie turned thirteen and started losing weight dramatically. Every time Stephanie ate, she had cramps and bloody diarrhea. Consuming just a morsel of food sent her running to the bathroom; the need came urgently and without warning. To avoid pain, not to mention the embarrassment, Stephanie ate as little as possible. Barbara took Stephanie to a gastroenterologist, who diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome, and for the next eight years Stephanie tried one drug after another. Some worked better than others, but still, by the time she reached high school Stephanie's weight had dipped to 113 pounds-and she's six feet tall. Her illness ruled her life. She couldn't attend events like high school football games, because the bathroom was too far away from the stands. She even left a college she loved because to go there she had to take the elevated train that runs through Chicago and there were no toilets. But through all this, Barbara never questioned the doctor's diagnosis or treatment plan. "I figured he knew best," she said. "Up until that point, I'd only had good experiences with doctors, so I had no reason to doubt his judgement. I figured the doctor must know more than I did."
In the end, a crisis finally opened Barbara's eyes. When Stephanie was around twenty-three, the gastroenterologist prescribed yet another new drug for her cramps and diarrhea. Stephanie very quickly spiked a high fever and in six hours had twenty-six bloody bowel movements. Barbara rushed her daughter to the hospital, where the gastroenterologist immediately took Stephanie off the new drug. Stephanie's fever went down, and the bloody diarrhea stopped. Barbara was relieved. Then the doctor did a curious thing. He put Stephanie back on the drug, and the fever and diarrhea returned. When Barbara asked why he'd done that, the gastroenterologist asserted that the drug couldn't possibly be ausing the problems, since the medical literature contained no reports that this drug had those particular side effects.
Barbara was dumbfounded. She was no doctor, but she knew what she was seeing with her own eyes. On the drug her daughter was extremely ill, and off the drug she was better. Back on the drug, the symptoms returned. Yet the doctor refused to admit that a drug he'd prescribed could be making Stephanie sick. At first, Barbara didn't say anything. "It was like my tongue was bolted to the bottom of my mouth, and I couldn't get the words out," she told me. "I didn't want to offend him. I was paralyzed." But then something struck her. "Right there, at that very moment in my daughter's hospital room, it hit me that this doctor was wrong from the very beginning," Barbara recalled. "I told him I was taking Stephanie to the University of Chicago to get a second opinion. He had a cow. He was so angry he was shaking. He said I was overreacting and he hadn't finished going through all the different drug regimens yet, that there were still more drug to try. I said, 'We've been trying these drugs for ten years and they're not working. Do you expect my daughter to continue to suffer?' That's when he walked out."
Four years later, Barbara can still remember the sound of the door slamming behind the doctor as he stormed out of her daughter's hospital room. From that moment on---from the moment she learned not to trust doctors implicitly---everything fell into place. The surgeon at the University of Chicago said that Stephanie had never had IBS; she actually had ulcerative colitis, an inflammation of the lining of the large intestine and the rectum. Other doctors agreed with his diagnosis, and so the surgeon removed her colon, which is sometimes done in severe cases of ulcerative colitis. Once she recovered from complications of the surgery, she gained 5 pounds in one month. Today she weighs 160 pounds, a healthy weight for her 6-foot frame. Stephanie suffered needlessly for ten years. It didn't have to happen. If her mother had been a "bad patient," she could have been treated successfully at thirteen instead of twenty-three.

Final Checklist: The 3 Golden Rules of Being a "Bad Patient"

1. Ask lots of questions.
If you don't understand something, ask for clarification, and if you still don't understand, ask again. The doctor or nurse might be visibly annoyed, but that shouldn't stop you. Remember, your health depends on your ability to comprehend what the doctor is telling you.

2. Don't worry whether your doctor likes you.
If you worry whether your doctor likes you, you could be putting your health in jeopardy, because you'll be hesitant to do anything that might upset the doctor, such as asking lots of questions. Remember that while it's a natural inclination to want to be liked, your health comes first and your popularity second.

3. Remember that this is a business transaction.
You're paying the doctor for a service, just as you would pay a car mechanic or the person who cleans your house. Of course, you're respectful of your doctor, just as you're respectful of the mechanic or the housekeeper, but you don't owe it to your doctor to be the perfect patient.

I urge you all to do your thorough research and especially understand your rights as a patient!!!