40 posts tagged “patient advocacy”

Life-changing second opinion stories: “I decided to get a second and third opinion…”

Posted 10 months ago by

Stories showing the importance of second opinions have been popping up in the media and on PatientsLikeMe. Check out the recent news headlines, hear a remarkable story of a PatientsLikeMe member who received a life-saving lung transplant after getting a second (and third) opinion, and share your own experience of piecing together your health puzzle.

Extraordinary second opinion stories

The Washington Post recently featured two powerful pieces related to second opinions — one about a man who got a second opinion at his mother’s urging (and received life-saving treatment for metastatic testicular cancer), and another about a woman who did not seek one and underwent unnecessary major surgery (removing her breasts and uterus). “I am damaged for the rest of my life,” the woman said.

PatientsLikeMe member Theresa (Pipersun) recently shared her “whirlwind experience” and remarkable second opinion story in the forum.

After two bouts of severe pneumonia earlier in 2017, a CT scan in June confirmed Theresa had a serious lung condition, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). While the diagnosis was correct, her doctors did not believe her condition was as advanced as she suspected.

“My pulmonologist was terrible,” she says. “He would not prescribe me oxygen, and would not sign a referral for pulmonary rehabilitation, stating it would do me no good, that if I had COPD he would. We talked about my life expectancy and lung transplant. He thought I had about 5 years, and I stated then how come I feel I am going to die in 3-5 months. He also made a derogatory statement, [he sat on the lung transplant review committee for the Northeast region] he stated ‘why would I put you on the list when there are so many children that need a lung.’ I responded that I didn’t think I was in the same [transplant candidate] group. But his attitude kick started my drive to find out as much as I could about organ donation regions, stats, etc.”

When her doctor denied an oxygen prescription, fellow members with IPF urged her to seek another opinion.

“I decided to get a second and third opinion,” she says. Consultations with two specialist groups in August – and her rapidly declining condition (which landed her on life support in September) – resulted in her receiving a lung transplant. “They admitted me to ICU and that’s the last I remember for 9 days,” she says. “I became conscious with a new set of lungs on Sept. 28.”

“I had to advocate for myself all the way and believe in what my body was telling me versus specialists in Oregon,” she says. “Even my GP thought I was in the early stages. If I would have listened to them, I would not be here/alive today. I am 57 years old, they said I have a new birthday, September 28.”

Pointers on second opinions

Steven Petrow, the writer who shared his second opinion success story in The Washington Post, offered some tidbits and tips for other patients in his Op/Ed piece:

  • 10 to 20 percent of all medical cases nationwide are misdiagnosed, affecting at least 12 million people, according to a Mayo Clinic researcher who has studied misdiagnoses
  • Don’t be talked out of a second opinion — doctors should support and encourage them (as PatientsLikeMe members have noted, “A good doctor will not be offended”)
  • “Be upfront and respectful with your doctor” — this can help ease the process of sharing records, and help you maintain a relationship if you stick with your original physician
  • Everyone has a right to a second opinion, and they’re usually covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid (but check with your own insurance)
  • “Not all second opinions are created equal” — find a doctor who’s board-certified in their specialty and (ideally) affiliated with an academic medical center with a strong reputation (avoid only relying on recommendations from friends or a referral from your doctor, because there could be some bias)
  • Consider all your options, including online second opinion resources(Petrow mentions examples like Dana-Farber’s online oncology programCleveland Clinic’s MyConsult and SecondOpinionExpert)

More members chat about second opinions

On PatientsLikeMe, there are more than 4,000 mentions of second opinions in the forums (trend-spotting: you often encourage each other to seek them, as member Peggy recommended in her blog post about self-advocacy). Here are some of the communities that have talked the most about second opinions in the forums — join PatientsLikeMe to see what folks say:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Mental health
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • ALS
  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer and lung cancer

What’s your second opinion story? Share it in the comments.

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Amplifying the patient voice on health care: Real people, real change

Posted 11 months ago by

In 2017, patients like you participated in research, attended conferences and took action on important health care changes. Check out some of the ways the PatientsLikeMe community is raising a unified voice on health care.

“Patients are a key piece to healthcare’s puzzle”

Back in May, PatientsLikeMe, the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and Arc Fusion teamed up with strategic thinkers and doers from across the health care spectrum— from clinicians, payers and policy makers to FDA regulators, journalists and attorneys. The goal of the event was to discuss how real-world health data, generated by real people like you on PatientsLikeMe, can shape decision making in the health care industry.

PatientsLikeMe members attended the event including Laura, Geof, Jim, Letitia, Gary, Lisa and Allison. After an evening of frank conversation, eclectic talks and performance, Laura wrapped up the event with a moving rendition of Ragtime’s Make Them Hear You.

Reflecting on the event she said: “Patients are the key piece to healthcare’s puzzle. Being a part of the Arc Fusion program and dinner was invigorating and so rewarding, as people from all aspects of healthcare, including patients like me, came together to place that puzzle piece. I can’t wait to continue my involvement in the future of health care.”

Sally Okun (PatientsLikeMe VP of Policy & Ethics), who organized and attended the event, said “Dinner conversations were provocative, candid, inspiring, and challenging. Overall there is great interest in elevating patient data to the level of evidence. PatientsLikeMe is actively engaged in innovative collaborations with regulators, policy makers and researchers to help them better understand the value and unique characteristics of data generated by patients.”

Members take a stand: The 7 essentials for a health care plan

Repeal? Replace? Revise? Following the twists and turns of the debate about health care this past year might have felt riding a roller coaster. (Need a refresher? Check out this timeline that breaks down the healthcare legislation efforts). But, according to a PatientsLikeMe poll, patients are largely unified on what a strong health care policy looks like.

2,755 members – from all 50 states and across party lines – added their voices, and at least 95 percent agree on the top 7 priorities of a strong health care policy (see the highlights of the poll results and the latest trends in patients’ opinions.)

Taking action

When we released the PatientsLikeMe healthcare poll results this past spring, the Republican majority in Congress was trying to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would’ve repealed most of the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.”

Many members didn’t just take part in the poll, they went one step further. They shared the poll results — showing the largely united patient voice — along with their personal views in messages to their members of Congress through this Take Action page.

What’s the one change you think is most needed in the health care system? Are you a PatientsLikeMe member? Head to the forum to add your voice.

 

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