Intensivists

25 06 2010

When we’re in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), either as a patient or as the caregiver of a loved one, we’re pretty scared and looking for all the help we can get.

Next time you find yourself headed to an ICU, ask for the Intensivist, or critical care specialist for the unit.

Intensivists are big picture people who review all available information and then develop a diagnosis and course of treatment for the critically ill patient. The plan they devise for the patient may change daily or hourly, because they stay on top of details and adjust the course as new information emerges—an essential element of high quality care.

Intensivists relish thinking outside the box, and their methods work. The survival rate of patients with an Intensivist running the ICU is greater than for those in an ICU without one.

Though qualifications and experience levels vary, these specialists are game-changers and often are the difference between successful and unsuccessful outcomes for critically ill patients.

An Intensivist gets information from many sources, including the patient and  the caregiver. If he or she starts asking you questions, don’t leave out even the smallest details. This is NOT the time to keep secrets.  You might be asked if your loved one has a substance abuse problem, or if the patient is supplemented with concoctions not on the “official list of medications.”  Share everything you know, as it’s impossible to say what might have bearing on the diagnosis and treatment of the patient.

An Intensivist usually has a specific time when he or she makes rounds. If you can manage to be there during that time, it’ll help you become part of the decision-making team.

Some tips for surviving the ICU:

  • Try not to be afraid.  The sights and sounds in the ICU are intense.
  • Use hand sanitizer or soap and water every time you enter and exit the area.
  • Don’t be afraid to touch and talk to your loved one.  And watch what you say, they can hear you.
  • Be considerate of the privacy of others, and obey the rules.
  • Ask questions of your doctors and nurses.  They have a lot of information to offer.
  • Rest when you can. You will be advised if you should NOT go home.  Keep a spare change of clothes and toiletries, if the circumstance warrants it.  Things can change quickly when someone is in ICU

Share





Medical Info on the Internet. Reliable?

14 06 2010

When we or our loved ones are diagnosed with a condition, many of us turn to the Internet for information.

Last year, 61 % of Americans used the Internet to research health topics.

The question is, how do we know if the medical information we find online is worth the time spent looking it up?

The National Library of Medicine has a 16 minute tutorial in both English and Spanish that helps users distinguish between reputable sites and those that may not be credible.

When faced with a potentially catastrophic diagnosis, we want to believe the hopeful sites that promise a cure, no matter who the authors may be, but we’re better served in the end by paying attention to details that tell us if a website is trustworthy.

Following are some things to note when determining a site’s credibility:

  • Who sponsors the website and are they easy to identify?
  • Is the sponsor’s contact information easy to find?
  • Who are the sites’ authors?
  • Who reviews the text?
  • Is it easy to determine when something was written?
  • Is there a privacy policy?
  • Does the information sound too good to be true?

The Internet can provide real assistance to us as we work to become team members in our own health care.

One benefit to having access to new technology is we can arrive at our doctor’s office better prepared for the visit. Given that doctor/patient visits last on average only eight to10 minutes, this is good news.

The more we understand walking in the door, the more time we’ll have to get the information that only comes from our healthcare professionals.

Bottom line is, we shouldn’t believe everything we read on the Internet, but if we become discerning in our online research, we’ll be more effective health advocates for ourselves and those we love.

Share





Scrubs and Lab Coats and Germs – ‘Twas Ever Thus

11 12 2009

Most of us multitask our way around town, constantly checking our to-do lists and cramming as much as we can into small windows of time.

Healthcare professionals, the ones who work in hospitals and wear the nifty lab coats and scrubs, are no different. They hurry out during lunch break to run errands, hurry to catch the bus to go home, and hurry to pick up their kids from soccer practice – they multitask.

But, if they don’t change their clothes and shoes before leaving the hospital, they can easily spread Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) and other germs around and make lots of people sick.  One hospital survey said that almost 500,000 people a year in the U.S. are getting sick just from C. difficile infections, which can cause diarrhea and inflammation of the colon.

In a January 2009 Wall Street Journal piece, author BetsyMcCaughey noted that:

At the University of Maryland, 65% of medical personnel confess they change their lab coat less than once a week, though they know it’s contaminated. Fifteen percent admit they change it less than once a month. Superbugs such as staph can live on these polyester coats for up to 56 days.

These multitasking, scrub and lab coat wearing healthcare professionals are spreading germs they pick up in the hospitals to their homes, to bus and subway seats, to restaurant chairs and tables and elsewhere.

Concern isn’t being aimed squarely at scrubs or lab coats: any type of unnecessary clothing is being criticized for carrying germs as workers move from patient to patient, person to person.

Loose clothing and long-sleeved shirts are culprits, as are neckties. In a 2004 New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens study, a test of 40 medical employees and 10 security guards found that half of the employees’ ties were a significant source of germs compared to only one in ten of the guards.

Hospitals are supposed to enforce rules about wearing scrubs or lab coats outside of the office, but sometimes these rules aren’t enforced. Budget concerns may prevent hospitals from improving their laundry habits or purchasing additional clothing for employees.

Using more care to clean hands, sterilize equipment, and wear clean scrubs without below-the-elbow items like long-sleeve shirts or neckties can lower hospital-related infection rates.  It’s worked in Denmark and other countries that have pushed for stricter regulations regarding hospital apparel.

Why not give it a try here?

Share





Researching Health Information on Twitter: Tip#1 – Hash It!

19 05 2009

Twitter_Logo

Social media has made the spread of information lightening fast.

One of the most interactive and helpful social media Websites is Twitter, a microblogging service that lets you make frequent 140 character updates.

As an avid Tweeter myself, I have found quite the handful of useful tools to navigate the Twitterspace. Some of these tools can be used to stay abreast of pertinent health information.

Tip #1 is the hashtag (#). The hashtag lets someone follow a conversation or relate his or her tweet (a.k.a. message) to a topic.

Take a look at one of  PKIDs’ tweets:

Twitter_Post_PKIDs_profile

In the post, there are multiple hashtags (#cellphones, #germ, #health) that, when typed into Twitter’s search box, will allow you to follow the current trends on that subject.

View what the search box looks like below. It’s also featured on the bottom right side of your Twitter profile page (or look at http://twitter.com/pkids).

Twitter_Search_pkids_profile

The search function also shows recent hot topics and allows you to search for topics you’re interested, i.e. #health for health information.

So, why use the hashtag?

Not every hashtag has a conversation attached, but the # attached to a word allows Twitter users to tag relevant posts so others can find them, even if you aren’t following their posts on Twitter. Hashtags before a specific word, like #health, also help exclude irrelevant posts like “I am a health freak,” which wouldn’t teach you much.

Here are a few good hashtag choices for health info:
#health
#wellness
#medicine
#medical

If you want more specific health information use the specific disease or virus name, like #hepatitis or #H1N1.

There are also Twitter-independent tools you can use to follow health information on Twitter, without getting a Twitter account. TweetDeck and Search.Twitter.com are two that are easy and free to use.

And remember, as with all information on the Web, not all of it is credible. Consult your doctor before acting on any health advice from a third party.

Stay tuned next week for another tip on social media and your health.





Dr. Gary Freed on Influenza Vaccine

21 09 2007

Dr. Gary Freed talks about the flu vaccine and pediatricians’ interactions with parents.

www.pkids.org

Listen Now!

Right-click here to download podcast (10MB, 21min)