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Contraception i-Pocketcards: Med Student Cheat Sheets For iPhone

“A baby crying is the best birth control.” – Anonymous

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Despite a world full of crying babies, access to effective and timely contraception remains a pressing women’s health issue.
All students in the health professions learn the basics of contraception.  Most health care professionals will prescribe contraception at some point in their training or clinical practice.  Some clinicians make contraception and family planning the primary focus of their practice.

Contraception i-pocketcards is a resource for each of these health care providers – from the medical student working his first gynecologic clinic to the experienced ED doctor wondering which emergency contraceptive method to use in her patient with a history of DVT.

Reviewed on the iPod Touch.  Also available on the iPhone and iPad.

If you visit a medical book store, you may notice the rack of medical pocket cards: EKG interpretation, 2011 Antibiotic guide, medical Spanish, and many others.  As a medical student, these cards may have been your lifeline – they were mine.    Likely among these cards is one related to prescribing contraception. Contraception i-pocketcards, like many good medical apps, is one that effectively replaces another white-coat-cluttering object.  For $3.99, this app contains all of the information about contraception found on six pocket cards. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Free iPhone App For Cancer Patients: A Must-Have Tool From ASCO

Cancer.net, an oncologist approved cancer information site from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), has released a free iPhone and iPad app — full of handy features for cancer patients.

The free app allows cancer patients and their family members to look up pertinent information based on cancer type and download a wealth of oncology related information in the form of videos, podcasts, and up to date articles.

Where the app truly shines is in there key features: Ability to store questions, medications and symptoms.  The way this app implements these key features is absolutely stunning, and makes the application a must have for cancer patients and their family members.

This review will explore these features and how your patients can use this app.

Questions Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Patient Education At Its Best: An Example From Griffin Hospital

A vital aspect of participatory medicine is helping patients learn how to participate. This week I saw a great example of someone who’s doing it right. Here’s the story, including the patient aid for download.

Griffin Hospital's CHF booklet (click to download)We hear a lot about “patient-centered”: patient-centered care, patient-centered thinking, everything. Frankly, a lot of it strikes me as patient-centered paternalism: people mean well, but patients sense that the thinking didn’t happen while standing in patients’ shoes, because the advice, policies, and publications just don’t hit home. It’s like somebody guessed what you want, instead of knowing (because they’re like you).

A couple of years ago I learned about Planetree, a terrific, small organization in Connecticut that’s been thinking from the patient’s point of view for thirty three years. (Yes, since 1978. Why are they not better known??)

This week I attended a live webcast at a “Planetree designated” hospital, Griffin Hospital, in Derby CT, produced by HealthLeaders Media. When somebody’s truly patient centered, you rarely hear a puzzled “Do people really need that?” or “Isn’t this good enough?”, because they start with what patients want. (See founders’ story at bottom.)

A great example is this booklet about CHF (congestive heart failure), which Griffin Hospital was kind enough to share. (Click the image to download the entire PDF, (1.7MB).) In my day job I did a bit of instructional development, so I can appreciate how well this was done: the “to-do” items are clearly presented, with NO extraneous explanation, and top-class use of icons and images. It’s all essential information, clearly presented, and nothing else. It’s what you need to do to succeed as a patient. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at e-Patients.net*

Does Communicating With Patients Take Too Much Time?

I recently participated in a Twitter Chat about physician-patient communications. A common refrain from some of the providers in the group was that “there isn’t enough time” during the typical office visit for physicians to worry about communicating effectively. What’s up with that?

The goal of patient-centered communications is to engage the patient in their own health care. While most physicians endorse the concept of patient centered communications, many seem reluctant to employ such techniques in their own practice.  Why?  I suspect that many fear that too much patient involvement will increase the length of the visit.

Take the patient’s opening statement aka “patient agenda” in patient centered lingo.  This is where the doctor asks the patient why they are there.  The resulting patient narrative is an opportunity for the physician to obtain valuable information to help assess the patient.  Patient centered advocates recommend that physicians use open-ended questions like “what brings you in today” to solicit the patient’s concerns and agenda.  Active listening by the physician and paying attention to the patient’s emotional cues are also hallmarks of patient centered communications.

The reality is that regardless of how they are asked, patients are often not able to complete their opening statement.   Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Mind The Gap*

Preventing Hospital-Acquired Infections: Patients Must Be “Safety Partners”

This is a guest post by Dr. Julia Hallisy.

Serious infections are becoming more prevalent and more virulent both in our hospitals and in our communities. The numbers are staggering: 1.7 million people will suffer from a hospital-acquired infections each year and almost 100,000 will die as a result.

When our late daughter, Kate, was diagnosed with an aggressive eye cancer in 1989 at five months of age, our life became consumed by doctor visits, MRI scans, radiation treatments, chemotherapy — and fear. My husband and I assumed that our fight was against the ravages of cancer, but almost eight years later we faced another life-threatening challenge we never counted on — a hospital-acquired infection. In 1997, Kate was infected with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the operating room during a “routine” 30-minute biopsy procedure to confirm the reoccurrence of her cancer.

Kate’s hospital-acquired infection led to seven weeks in the pediatric intensive care unit on life support, the amputation of her right leg, kidney damage, and the loss of 70 percent of her lung capacity. While most infections are not this serious, the ones that are often lead to permanent loss of function and lifelong disabilities. In the years since Kate’s infection, resistant strains of the bacteria have emerged and now pose even more of a threat since they can be impossible to treat with our existing arsenal of antibiotics.

Patients afflicted with MRSA will often have to contend with the threat of recurrent infections for the rest of their lives. These patients live in constant fear of re-infection and often struggle with feelings of vulnerability and helplessness. Family members, friends, and co-workers may not fully understand the facts and have nowhere to turn for education about risks and prevention. Loved ones may worry unnecessarily for their own safety, which can cause them to distance themselves from someone who desperately needs their presence and support.

We have the knowledge and the ability to prevent a great number of these frightening infections, but the busy and fragmented system in which healthcare is delivered doesn’t encourage adequate infection control measures, and patients continue to be at risk. A significant part of the problem is that the public doesn’t receive timely and accurate information about the detection and prevention of MRSA and other dangerous organisms, and they aren’t engaged as “safety partners” in the quest to eliminate infections. Read more »

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