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Patients can provide key information, vital linkages with primary care providers
New "Speak Up" brochure geared toward dialysis patients
A patient who is actively engaged in his or her own care can provide a wealth of information to a busy ED provider who lacks ready access to medical-record information. But sometimes it takes gentle prodding for the patient to feel comfortable about sharing such details. "ED physicians can have significant impact [in this regard] because they are often the first physicians a patient is going to see when they come into an organization," explains Ana Pujols-McKee, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer, the Joint Commission (JC) in Oakbrook Terrace, IL. "Telling patients that you want them to participate in their care can be a very powerful message."
Such participation is especially critical when dealing with patients with highly complex medical issues, such as dialysis patients, for example. "The majority of these patients are going to see a completely different care team that knows very little about them, and most likely is totally unconnected with the facility where they are regularly receiving their care," says Pujols-McKee, "so medical history, allergies, medications all of that knowledge and information does not follow the patient when he goes into the ED."
When such patients are engaged, they can not only bring providers up to speed about vital medical information quickly, they can also facilitate linkages between the ED providers and their primary care physician by providing contact information, and making it much easier for the ED physician to reach out, adds Pujols-McKee.
Recognizing that dialysis patients who seek emergency or inpatient care present special challenges, the Joint Commission has developed a brochure specifically geared toward encouraging these patients. Dialysis: Five Ways To Be Active in Your Care at the Hospital, discusses such topics as avoiding infections and drug interactions, speaking with the hospital dietitian, and planning for discharge.
The dialysis education campaign is the latest addition to the JC's "Speak Up" campaign, which has been urging patients to take a more active role in their care since 2002. Hospitals can download the brochure geared toward dialysis patients as well as the campaign's other brochures free of charge at www.jointcommission.org/speakup.aspx.