Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Are We Overdosing Healthcare?

When I began blogging, one of my main objectives was to empower other people with knowledge to make their life journey easier. All of us have different allergy needs as well as healthcare needs. All of us want to be supported by the strongest people that we know have our back. I think it’s safe to say that all of us not only want to get through our personal difficulties but we also want to know how to arm ourselves with the most necessary tools to accomplish this. Especially with allergies, the proper healthcare is essential to the choices that we make – every choice shapes what could make our lives better or worse.

Recently, I was chosen to be a Patient Champion Activist for the Consumer Reports Choosing Wisely Campaign, an initiative of the ABIM Foundation . What is the Patient Champion Activist Program about? This is a teaching tool to encourage us to help find our voices while discussing our healthcare options. It's something that is easily shared with friends, family and your community. During most of my son’s younger life and struggles to find adequate doctors that (I felt) had our family’s best interest at heart, this was a skill that I had to learn. As a parent, as a mom and as a person who not only wants to treat a medical condition, I am determined to be a part of what the root cause is and what all of the treatment options are for us. I found out early on that not all physicians are alike which means that all of us need to know that it’s ok to ask questions rather than trust what the doctor has decided for us. If I had not asked questions, I am certain that my son would have had multiple and possibly life-threatening reactions to some of the treatments suggested by his Pediatrician due to his allergies. Many of us are taught that doctors know best. Many do but not all of them do.

5 Easy Questions to Ask I wasn’t so outspoken early on and learning to know when to ask questions was difficult for me. I’ve had many doctors argue with me, roll their eyes, or insist that I was overreacting to their advice. Here is the thing- YOU pay doctors to treat you, not the other way around. If you don’t like the response that your doctor(s) are giving you, find one that does, period. It IS that simple. Does this sound a bit harsh? Perhaps but I will take seeming harsh over the possibility of mistreatment, allergic reactions and possible death anytime. I’m not over emphasizing I’m just being blunt.

Many of you are probably unsure how to begin to be a part of your healthcare without seeming too pushy. If that is the case, I have five simple questions that Consumer Reports created and that I have adapted. You can begin to use them as a guideline to help you get started. If you are still uneasy, bring along a friend or family member so that they can ask these questions for you. Especially during stressful times, another person who is clear-headed may be able to ask questions that you are too overwhelmed to think about yourself at the time of the visit.

  1. Do I really need this test or procedure? Everyone’s health is different so everyone’s health plan should be different as well.  
  2. What are the risks and side effects? Most doctors will explain this but it’s always good to ask anyway.  
  3. Are there simpler, safer options? With today’s advances in medicine and broad range of techniques, there are usually options to choose from.
  4. What happens if I don’t do anything? This is something that most people don’t think is an option but it’s your health and your choice.
  5. How much does it cost, and will my insurance pay for it?Although cost should never be the determining factor for your healthcare, knowing ahead of time of what you can expect is less stressful.
I have also always been a big advocate for those who are visual learners (as I am one myself). I wanted to share one of the videos that Choosing Wisely offers to help us remember the questions to ask but also to remind us all that asking questions is always ok.


Become Your Own Advocate Nobody advocates better for you than you. Be proud to ask questions, be honest when speaking with physicians and be proud to disagree about your healthcare options- these are all your choices. Being a part of the food allergy community means integrating healthcare options and knowing how to choose wisely. As I always mention, I am here to help- if you need help, always ask me. If I don’t have the answer that you need, I can try to find someone that does have it or feels they can help you get it. All of our voices are strong and even when you feel that your voice won’t make a difference, it can and it will. Use your voice to protect yourself and others.

For more information on the Choosing Wisely program or how you can educate others in your area, you can visit them at on the web, Facebook and Twitter.

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