Medical Crisis ... Take control
of your healthcare!
by Edward B. Toupin
I realize that this short article is outside of the content that
I normally provide. However, I felt compelled to provide a "lessons
learned" article for you with regard to some interesting
experiences with the medical community. I could author a tome
of the stories I've heard and the disastrous medical records I've
seen; however, I am just providing a short overview of some information
garnered over the past years that might help you when visiting
your medical practitioner.
Although I am not a doctor, I have spoken with many people and
doctors as well as researched and experienced enough over the
years to provide some insight into dealing with medical practitioners
in our day and age. The purpose of this article is not to provide
medical advice, but to provide information on how to prepare and
protect yourself when dealing with today's medical community.
--- Disconcerting ---
The medical community is in a sad state of affairs at the moment.
Doctors are afraid to provide medical assistance at the level
they once did because of medical malpractice issues. Patients
are slowly finding that it is ridiculously expensive and, out
of concern for their own well-being, feel it is unsafe to visit
their doctor. It has somewhat turned into an "us-against-them"
The cost of medical care is ridiculous these days and the problem
relates to the cost of liability insurance and various "frill"
expenses required to ensure that the doctors are in the good graces
of governmental and regulatory agencies. This problem is based
on those patients who, at one time, sued to pocket a few dollars
where, now, when a real crisis occurs no one is willing to help
and the medical practitioner simply hides behind the legal curtain
and waits until that the problem (i.e., the patient) goes away.
The situation is that there are so many issues arising due to
improper medical care that indeed, the problem will not go away.
As more and more of these problems appear, they will eventually
create gridlock, which will force someone to step back and take
a serious look at the situations within the medical community.
Except for the politics of the situation, why should we have to
wait until it is beyond repair before something is done to resolve
--- Over-Prescription ---
One situation I recall was a young woman who was placed on Valium
after witnessing a murder. While she was only supposed to be on
the drug for three months, she was left on the addictive medication
for six years. After the horrendous side-effects and finally reaching
the end of the line with the drug, she sought assistance from
Interestingly enough, she was classified as an "addict",
yet she was "involuntarily-addicted" by her doctor.
She was able to come off the medication and seek counseling for
the after-effects and is now a fully functioning individual. However,
because of the actions of one doctor, she nearly died and then
had a terribly difficult time coping and adjusting to a "normal
One of the problems is that doctors receive recurring income for
prescriptions from the pharmaceutical companies and related vendors.
If you consider how many patients a doctor has, and how many prescriptions
each patient has, then indeed, this constitutes a comfortable
income for the doctor.
I remember, in the old days, that my doctors would rarely prescribe
anything, as they preferred that me and my body handle any issues
that arise. However, these days, when I visit a doctor, it's almost
like going to a used car lot. I am hit with deals to get a prescription
for just about anything I want at the time. All I have to do is
make any statement as to why I would "need" the prescription.
Indeed, doctors should not receive compensation from any vendors
in return for using their product. The question arises, why would
any doctor want to take you off any drugs if they're making money
for each prescription? It would make sense to monitor you to ensure
that you don't die or go into some psychotic state so that they
are not reprimanded for the situation and so that they can continue
their cash flow.
Self-monitor your medications. Understand the side-effects and
what could potentially occur over the long-term. Communicate your
concerns with your doctor and provide feedback as to the positive
and negative effects the medication is having on you. Take it
upon yourself to help direct your care and don't allow yourself
to fall into a cycle of having to take additional medication to
continually counter the effects of your current medication.
--- Government Intervention ---
The Board of Medical Examiners (BME) is touted to protect the
public. They do indeed reprimand doctors for minimal issues so
that they can be seen as working for the public and no one can
say that the BME "doesn't do anything". Yet, in cases
of political importance, they will reprimand the doctor behind
the scenes and publicly leave you without any recourse. This is
a sad situation in that you end up right where you started and,
in serious cases of malpractice and neglect, you have no way of
recouping for loss in quality of life and finances. In the end,
you are paying for someone else's mistakes and the doctor is left
to wreak havoc in someone else's life.
If a problem presents itself, escalate issues as needed by contacting
your state's Attorney General and associated regulatory agencies.
Keep them informed. It is your right to ensure that you are properly
heard and your concerns are efficiently handled.
--- Legal Assistance ---
States like Nevada, where the medical community is in shambles,
have problems in that attorneys will not assist those with legitimate
claims since the result will cut into the small number of doctors
left in the state. Yet, such protection by the state allows the
unskilled to rise in status. As this problem grows, people are
heading to one of the neighboring states, like Arizona or California,
to seek medical assistance.
One recent situation I recall was a young woman who went through
two spinal fusion surgeries. The hardware from the first surgery
broke in her neck, followed by a failure of the fusion. During
the second surgery, just months later, the broken hardware was
discarded and neither the surgeon nor the hospital would discuss
the issue, even after being asked to keep it for examination.
This left the woman without any recourse. Now, because of issues
with the second surgery, she will have to undergo a third surgery
to repair resulting debilitating damage caused in the second surgery.
This was disconcerting as, there are no laws that prohibit the
discarding of broken hardware. Yet, because the hardware was discarded,
this left no recourse to investigate the situation. Now, the woman
is left with permanent damage and has to pay hefty expenses to
counter the debilitating effects of the surgeon's errors. Yet,
she was dismissed by the legal system once the state's attorneys
realized that the case was legitimate and could create political
repercussions because of the state's medical crisis.
--- Informed Consent ---
The basic idea of informed consent is that you are intelligently
making a decision to accept treatment for a given situation. Supposedly,
the doctor is to provide you with enough information so that you
are able to make an informed decision. However, the doctor is
not obligated to tell you anything that they are not asked directly.
Many offer a basic explanation of the procedure and potential
outcome, but they rarely disclose anything beyond these basics.
So many people just accept what a doctor discloses without question.
In such a situation, the patient is giving up their rights and
their life. But, realize that doing so puts them at a greater
risk because they won't know the outcomes and the surgeon does
not have to be concerned about they patient "knowing too
much". Know what's going to happen and why certain procedures
must be performed!
Ask questions and research! Do not leave any stone unturned! Another
situation I recall from this same woman in Nevada was that her
spinal surgeon's common response was "I don't know."
If you're in a situation where your future quality of life depends
on what this doctor knows, either make him find out or find another
doctor! You are paying the doctor for your care and you are entitled
to understand every aspect of anything that is going to happen
to you and how to resolve. Indeed, there are cases where a full
resolution and recuperation might not be possible, but at the
very least the practitioner should direct you toward a path of
resolution if not some type of management and maintenance.
--- What can I do? ---
One of the first things to do is never go alone. It is imperative
that your spouse, parent, or even a close friend always accompany
you on every visit. This tends to bother many doctors, but it
is within your rights to have someone with you on every visit.
It is better to have to an extra set of ears and two heads to
pose questions and listen to answers. If anything, the patient
works with the doctor and the visitor take notes.
Always come to each visit with 10 questions. Research the situation
and find out as much as possible beforehand so that you have a
basic idea of what is going to happen. Pose questions that clarify
and direct so that you are able to understand what is happening.
As the patient asks questions, the visitor writes the answers.
Use these answers to generate additional questions for the next
visit. Stay alert and stay informed!
Always seek a second opinion, if anything, just to acquire additional
information and ideas from another practitioner. However, do not
allow your primary doctor or surgeon to refer you to another professional
for this opinion. It is important that you call your insurance
company to find out the procedures for obtaining a second opinion,
as you do not want to taint the results of the secondary visit
by allowing the doctors to communicate prior to obtaining your
second visit's results.
Stay in touch with your insurance companies and ensure that your
doctors are communicating with them properly. Also, ask for references
to quality practitioners that they fully cover and with whom they've
had positive experiences. You are paying your insurance company
to work for you and they will provide assistance if you ask.
If you have any concerns about the fact that your doctor might
not be working in your best interest or for your best welfare,
contact your state's Board of Medical Examiners as well as your
state's Attorney General. It doesn't matter if you feel as though
your concerns are trivial. Indeed, if you feel that something
is not right, then something is not right and you have every right
to find resolution and answers.
Also, contact your local media to investigate other situations
that might have arisen that are similar to your own. Offer your
situation to them for a potential story and let them decide on
its content, as they are also interested in educating the public.
It is imperative that you be aware of what is happening to you
and that you do not just disappear into the woodwork if indeed
the doctor has made an error. Not only will you do yourself a
disservice, but other patients will suffer as well if you just
let the situation dissipate.
--- What's next? ---
Many people are intimidated by their doctors. You need to realize
that they provide a service and you are using them for your benefit
and your life. You tell them what you want and take the time to
learn about your situation. Do not just throw your life into their
hands. The point is that this is your life and in today's medical
environment you have to be alert and know what is going on for
your own sake.
Take control of your life and understand in detail what it is
that you will be going through in any procedure or surgery. The
medical community is in a situation right now where doctors are
afraid of patients and the patients are leery of their doctors.
This isn't the good old days when the doctors were right there
and could work closely with their patients.
I always felt that it would be beneficial for surgeons, doctors,
and vendors to prepare documentation and videos to educate the
patient prior to any procedure. Indeed, some procedures might
be frightening and "scare off" a potential patient;
however, it is your decision, regardless of the procedure, as
to whether or not you want to experience the situation. However,
many in the medical community feel that too much information is
a detriment as the details alone might sway you from a necessary
surgery. From my own experiences, indeed, necessary or elective,
I would much rather have control over the future quality of my
Visit your doctor. Take care of yourself. However, by all means,
don't do so blindly! Realize that when you walk into a doctor's
office, you're on your own with little opportunity for recourse
in the event of a serious, debilitating, or life-threatening complication.
But, it is your right to know and your right to ensure that you
are receiving the best possible treatment and resolution for your
--- About the Author ---
Edward B. Toupin is an author, life-strategy coach, counselor,
and technical writer living in Las Vegas, NV. Among other things,
he authors books and articles on topics ranging from career success
through life organization and fulfillment. For more information,
e-mail Edward at email@example.com
or visit his sites at http://www.toupin.com
to Insurance Articles Index