Patient Safety

Don’t Have a Stroke – Get Tested for Afib! Take Your Medication!

“Stroke” – the word conjures about mental and physical disability. Indeed, stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability and reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.

Mark McEwen is a reporter for CBS, but what many people may not know is that Mark has a common heart arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation (also known as AFib) and suffered a stroke, and has gone through extensive rehabilitation to regain what his stroke took away from him. As Mark told us – “I was in a coma, I was in intensive care for a week, I was in the hospital for a month, rehab for a year … I wouldn’t wish stroke on my worst enemy. It’s like being stuck in a block of ice – your brain can handle things, but it’s hard to speak, it’s hard to move, it changes everything.”

 So that others may learn from Mark’s experience, Michael Wong, JD (Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety) interviewed Mark. Below are highlights and key messages from this interview which took place on October 22, 2020:

Mark Didn’t Know What Afib Was, but Now You Do

Mark had never heard about Afib until it struck him. As he said in the interview, “I didn’t know what Afib was. I’d never heard of it before, and all of a sudden, it’s an irregular heartbeat in my case and I take medication for it, but it was a surprise to me when the doctor said atrial fibrillation. Again, I never heard of it before. Now, I really know what it is.”

And so now that you’ve heard about Afib, ask your doctor about Afib and how to get tested for Afib – and, it’s a simple and painless procedure: “Typically, afib is diagnosed by a simple EKG or ECG (electrocardiogram) where several electrodes are placed on your skin to measure and record your heart’s electrical activity in wavelengths. It is painless and takes only a few minutes as you lie down for the test to be administered.”

Don’t Think That Afib Can’t Happen to You – Be Vigilant About Your Health

People often think that bad things won’t happen to you and it’s going to happen to someone else. Mark cautions against thinking that “bad things will happen to someone else and then one day guess what, my friend, they happened to me. I always say, you rarely if ever hear “lucky” and “stroke” in the same sentence. I’ve been lucky … I had no idea this was out there and that it would affect me .. I’m here to scream from the top of the highest trees, go check it out! It’s better to say “no, you don’t have to worry about that,” but if you do, again, it’s something that can be corrected and you can live with it, but, again, you have to be vigilant about your health.”

Don’t Delay Seeing Your Doctor – Doctors’ Offices are Safe, Even During COVID

In a recent survey of its followers, the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety found that many patients have delayed or not seen a doctor because of COVID-19. Fear of getting COVID-19 is particularly high in patients with Afib and other cardiovascular diseases – more than nine of ten (92%) of whom were extremely concerned or moderately concerned. As a result, more than half of the respondents with Afib or cardiovascular disease reported that they had delayed or not gone to see a doctor during this COVID pandemic (53%). Studies have found that patients have delayed seeing a doctor, resulting in more at-home heart attacks and delayed ED visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Such delays are particularly significant for patients with atrial fibrillation or other cardiovascular diseases because such patients are at a higher risk of a heart attack.

Mark – 

Like everyone else, Mike, I was afraid, scared to see the doctor. I had my medication, I could have it – when it ran out – go to CVS, they would call my physician, fill up my medication, but I had to go in.

“Mike, it’s hard for people to go in, but I’ll tell you this, doctors’ offices might be one of the safest places to go, because they’re busy wiping down things – wear your mask, wash your hands, all that – they are on the forefront of being safe.

“If you go to, say, Home Depot or you go to Target, it’s a bit different than going to your doctor’s office. They’re more aware of safety when going to the doctor’s office. I would tell people ‘don’t be afraid to go into your doctor’s office.’”

You Can’t Forget Your Anniversary, You Can’t Forget Your Wife’s Birthday – Don’t Forget to Take Your Medications

Low adherence to physician-prescribed medications has consistently been observed across all classes of medications and disease states  – about half of patients with chronic diseases do not take their medications as prescribed by their physicians. Medication non-adherence may especially have serious consequences with cardiovascular patients. This is particularly the case with those patients diagnosed with Afib.

From the interview with Michael Wong and Mark McEwen:

Mark – “So, I have that case where it says “Monday,” “Tuesday,” “Wednesday,” “Thursday” where I put all of my pills. So, every morning I make sure I take all my pills. And, with my blood thinner, I have to take it twice a day, so I have a smaller “Monday,” “Tuesday,” “Wednesday,” “Thursday”  right next to my bed, so after dinner I take the other pill for my Afib.

There’s a couple of things you can’t forget – you can’t forget your anniversary, you can’t forget your wife’s birthday.

Mike – Not if you want to stay married for long.

Mark – Exactly! Exactly! And, you can’t forget your medication, you can’t do that. You can forget what day it is, you can forget to take the dog out, but try hard not to forget your medication … Be part of the solution, because you don’t want your forgetfulness to be part of the problem.

To listen to the interview, please go to the PPAHS YouTube Channel.

For a transcript of the interview, please click here.

To read more about Mark’s experience, please go to Mark McEwen’s website.

 

Patient Safety

COVID Fatigue? Keeping the Mind Sharp at Home, Work, and Everywhere In-Between

By Angela Hughes (Writer and Editor for Anapol Weiss, a personal injury law firm)

In the pre-COVID era, most people longed for more time at home, but if there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that too much of a good thing isn’t always good.

The pandemic pushed people inside and away from family, friends, and co-workers. Although necessary, unstructured time at home can lead to boredom, stress, and mental health issues. Brain fog may set in and cause a decrease in memory and cognition. 

The good news is that there are healthy ways to cope with COVID fatigue and keep your mind sharp wherever you happen to be. 

Create a Healthy Routine

During uncertain times such as these, it’s important to feel like you maintain some control over your life. You can do this by maintaining your healthy habits and creating a routine that works for your situation. Doing so will help give you a sense of normalcy and ease anxiety. 

In an article for Healthline, clinical psychotherapist Erin Wiley notes that, “In order for our minds to function at maximum efficiency, we must have order and stability, and right now it’s harder than ever to have either. Simple habits that we may have previously done — making the bed, blow drying our hair — are simple activities we can do to remind our brain that life is still going on despite the interruptions we are facing.”

Your routine may not look exactly as it once did, but you can establish a new one that’s similar. Set your alarm and wake up at the same time every day. If you showered before work before COVID or worked out afterward, maintain those habits. You can also create checklists to help you stay organized and power through work tasks.

Use the Internet Mindfully

It’s easy to hop online and scroll through social media for hours, but to keep your mind sharp, consider using technology to inspire and educate yourself. 

Stimulate your mind by taking an online course, learning a new language, following guided meditations, or taking virtual tours through a museum. You can find everything from gallery tours and library collections to podcasts and wellness resources for free. 

If you’re feeling digitally fatigued, you can also keep your mind sharp by reading books and playing offline games. According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2018, people over age 65 who participated in intellectual activities, like reading and playing card games, had a significantly lower risk of dementia.

Lower Stress

Stress affects brain cells and wreaks all kinds of havoc on your life. If you’re not getting adequate sleep, feel anxious most of the time, or are stressed out about work and life in general, you could find yourself physically ill, depressed, forgetful, and irritable. Additionally, you could be at a higher risk of getting into car accidents. 

Even if you’re not driving as much as you used to or taking the long commute to work, you could still end up careless behind the wheel and in car accidents. The Association for Psychological Science says that a history of stress may contribute to anxiety while driving, leading to accidents.

One of the best ways to target stress is to practice mindfulness and breathing techniques. Meditation has a lot of research behind it, and it’s been shown to reduce anxiety and depression and increase certain areas of the brain. You can find various meditation videos online to suit your preferences: guided, visual, music only, etc. Experiment with different kinds to see what works best for you. 

You can also incorporate deep breathing exercises into your daily routine. For five to ten minutes a day, breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. Research has shown that slow, controlled breathing calms the mind. A peaceful mind can make decisions more easily and respond to outside events in a calmer manner. 

Stay Active

Keeping your body strong and healthy also keeps your mind sharp. Exercise boosts blood flow to the brain and increases the part of your brain (hippocampus) associated with learning and memory. The best part is, a little bit of exercise goes a long way, so you don’t need to run on the treadmill for six hours daily to see the benefits. 

Try walking or cycling three times a week or workout to an online video. It’s also beneficial to include resistance training into your physical activities. Brush off those dusty hand weights and start building a little body and brain muscle. 

Final Thoughts

You may not always know what will happen in the future or control how this pandemic will pan out, but you do have the power to control what’s happening in your mind and how you respond to uncertainty. 

Keeping your mind sharp and your body healthy will help you navigate daily life, even in the post-COVID world. Whether you end up using the internet mindfully or lower stress from potential risks like car accidents, these tips above can help you stay sharp.


Angela Hughes is a writer and editor for Anapol Weiss, a personal injury law firm. She writes about driving safety and personal safety tips to keep the world a little bit safer.

Patient Safety, Position Statement

COVID Has Affected All of Us, But Some More Than Others

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let us all remember that Black Lives Matter, that there are healthcare inequalities, and that we need systemic change.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of January 17, 2020, in the United States, there have been more than 23 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and almost 400,000 deaths due to COVID. 

While these WHO statistics are mind-numbing, what they do not show is that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected some American communities more than others. According to Dr. Anthony Fauci (as reported by CNBC), state-level data demonstrate that black people are disproportionately dying from COVID-19:

  • In Michigan, black people makeup 14% of the state’s population, but account for 41% of coronavirus deaths, according to data released by Michigan’s government. 
  • In Illinois, black people makeup 14% of the population, but account for 32.5% of coronavirus deaths, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.
  • In Louisiana, where black people make up about 33% of the population, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in early April they account for more than 70% of the state’s coronavirus deaths, with the majority of these fatalities taking place in New Orleans.
  • In New York City, black and Latino people are twice as likely to die from the virus than their white peers, according to data by the local government.

COVID-19 has disproportionately affected people of color, as reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). COVID has further exacerbated these differences. The COVID cardiovascular disease registry of the American Heart Association found that Black and Hispanic patients bore a greater burden of mortality and morbidity among COVID hospitalizations. 

COVID has laid bare healthcare inequalities and the need for systemic change. Join with the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety in acting NOW to be:

  • Actively be anti-racist.
  • Recognize that racism tears at the fabric of our society and therefore is a societal issue that has a profound impact on ALL communities and aspects of life.
  • Identify and call out racism, whether that it exists in ourselves, our neighbors, or in our leaders.
  • Listen and amplify black voices, like the Association of Black Cardiologists and the National Black Nurses Association.

For more on our position on Black Lives Matter, please download and read our position statement

Must Reads, Patient Safety

Top 5 Patient Safety Posts of 2020

As we bid farewell – or, perhaps good riddance to 2020 – here are our top patient safety posts for 2020.

2020 was definitely a COVID-19 year! 4 out of 5 of our posts for 2020 were about COVID-19, and one of these COVID posts was submitted to us by a doctor from Alaska.

#1 Patient Safety Post in 2020 – Free Patient-to-Nurse Chat Line

On April 23, 2020, PPAHS launched a free virtual clinic and website, Virtual Patient Care, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, to meet the pressing needs of patients with atrial fibrillation (Afib), who are at the highest level of risk from stroke, and to help Afib patients cope with the difficulties imposed by COVID-19. 

“Under current COVID-19 conditions, patients face the burdens of social distancing and increased difficulty in reaching clinicians busy with emergencies. Telehealth has proven essential in addressing patients’ pressing health needs and ensuring good patient-to-clinician dialogue,” said Michael Wong, JD, Founder and Executive Director of the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety. 

The goal of Virtual Patient Care, conceived of and managed by the PPAHS in response to the COVID-19 crisis, is to foster an adherence rate greater than the reported 50% for patients at the highest ranges of stroke risk. The free telehealth service is supported by an unrestricted grant from the BMS-Pfizer Alliance, as well as the efforts, involvement, and/or resources of the American Heart Association, the Anticoagulation Forum, Heart Rhythm Society, StopAfib.org, Mended Hearts, and Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association.

To read the post, please click here

#2 Patient Safety Post in 2020 – How Chiropractors Can Ensure Patient’s Safety Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

As chiropractic clinics start to open back up, many patients might feel a bit hesitant to make an appointment. How will the clinic protect them? What steps are chiropractors using to keep things safe? 

In this guest post, Dr. Brent Wells, DC discusses what chiropractic clinics and patients should do as clinics begin to open up after COVID-19. 

#3 Patient Safety Post in 2020 – 3 Myths about Wearing Masks

Many inaccuracies and false statements about COVID-19 have circulated on social media, but perhaps amongst all of these inaccuracies and false statements, none has been more damaging to health and safety than about wearing masks. In this post, we discuss 3 myths about wearing masks.

#4 Patient Safety Post in 2020 – Black Lives Matter, Healthcare Inequalities, and the Need for Systemic Change

As 2020 comes to an end, there have been 81,475,053 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 1,798,050 deaths, according to the WHO. In the United States, there have been 19,346,790 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 335,789 deaths.

While these WHO statistics are mind-numbing, what they don’t show is that the COVID pandemic has disproportionately affected some American communities more than others.

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci (as reported by CNBC), state-level data demonstrate that black people are disproportionately dying from COVID-19:

  • In Michigan, black people makeup 14% of the state’s population, but account for 41% of coronavirus deaths, according to data released by Michigan’s government. 
  • In Illinois, black people makeup 14% of the population, but account for 32.5% of coronavirus deaths, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.
  • In Louisiana, where black people make up about 33% of the population, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in early April they account for more than 70% of the state’s coronavirus deaths, with the majority of these fatalities taking place in New Orleans.
  • In New York City, black and Latino people are twice as likely to die from the virus than their white peers, according to data by the local government.

We must act NOW to:

  • Actively be anti-racist.
  • Recognize that racism tears at the fabric of our society and therefore is a societal issue that has a profound impact on ALL communities and aspects of life.
  • Identify and call out racism, whether that it exists in ourselves, our neighbors, or in our leaders.
  • Listen and amplify black voices, like the Association of Black Cardiologists and the National Black Nurses Association.

To read the post, please click here.

To read the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety position statement, “Black Lives Matter, Healthcare Inequalities, and the Need for Systemic Change,” please click here.

#5 Patient Safety Post in 2020 – Survey Finds Clinicians Want Safer Ways to Test Lung Function

To help better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected medical practices and patient safety, the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety conducted a survey about whether clinicians are performing lung function tests during COVID-19 and what improvements to such testing they would like to have.

To read the blog post, please click here.

To read our report about the survey results, please click here.

 

Patient Safety

Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety Wishes You a Safe and Merry Christmas!

Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety wishes you a Safe and Merry Christmas!

There have been two vaccines against COVID-19 approved by the FDA – one from Pfizer-BioNTech and one from Moderna.

FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. had this to say about these vaccine approvals – “With the availability of two vaccines now for the prevention of COVID-19, the FDA has taken another crucial step in the fight against this global pandemic that is causing vast numbers of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States each day.”

Although these approvals are great news and they are indeed a crucial step, don’t expect to receive a COVID vaccine soon. As the MIT Technology Review pointed out – “supplies of the vaccine are likely to be limited until well into 2021, meaning most people won’t be able to get it anytime soon.”

So, until a substantial majority of the population has received a COVID vaccine – including yourself and your family – please continue to be vigilant about your health and take safety precautions against COVID-19.

According to the CDC, please take these precautions:

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, everyone should:

  • Clean your hands often, either with soap and water for 20 seconds or a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people (at least 6 feet).
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces daily.
  • CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings and when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.

As well, here are some tips and advice that you might find useful:

Going to the Dentist in this COVID-19 Era – in this interview, Bradley T. Truax, MD discusses what precautions dentists and their patients should consider.

How Chiropractors Can Ensure Patient’s Safety Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic – Dr. Brent Wells, DC discusses what chiropractic clinics and patients should do as clinics begin to open up after COVID-19.

Exercising During the COVID-19 Pandemic – keeping physically active has a great many benefits and, during the current COVID-19 situation, physical activity is recommended for emotional and mental health, as well as to boost your immune system.

3 Myths about Wearing Masks – don’t let these three myths stop you from taking care of your health.

Establishing an Emotional Connection During COVID – social distancing required during the current COVID pandemic has taken a toll on our social and mental health. This article discusses the impact social distancing may have on us and what each of us can do about it.

Great COVID-19 Advice and Resources from Our Cardiovascular Partners – read this article for great advice and resources from the American Heart Association, Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association  and Heart Rhythm Society, the Anticoagulation Forum, StopAfib.org, and Mended Hearts.

Have a COVID question? We just might have the answer at Virtual Patient Care.

 

 

Malpractice, Patient Safety

5 Patient Safety Blunders Healthcare Staff Must Avoid

Editor’s note – This is an opinion piece about patient safety errors that healthcare staff need to avoid.

By Katherine Rundell (Medical Writer)

Patient safety outcomes should be the first priority in healthcare facilities. Unfortunately, many mistakes such as medication errors, patient mix ups, and data management failures lead to deaths and prolonged illness in patients every year – but with vigilance and proper systems in place, many of these errors can be avoided. The first step is education, so read on to discover the five safety mistakes healthcare staff need to avoid.

Medication Errors

Providing patients with the wrong medication can have catastrophic consequences, and yet this is a common mistake in healthcare facilities with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating medication error causes at least one death every day. Medication mix ups are easy when clinicians are overworked, providing countless patients with complex cocktails of medication each day.

Medication errors include mixing up patients to provide the wrong medication completely or errors in dosage that stem from mathematical mistakes. Eliminating medication errors can be taken on systematically by providing a medication safety officer to oversee your medication procedures.

HAI (Hospital Acquired Infection)

When people are suffering they turn to hospitals and healthcare facilities for help – yet too many people are acquiring new medical issues in hospitals when they should be recuperating. Hospital acquired infection includes a range of issues such as superbugs bred and strengthened  in the hospital environment, pneumonia and bloodstream infections. Because hospitals provide a hub for various ailments, these can spread between patients if healthcare staff aren’t cautious.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) and staff hygiene protocol is essential in the protection of patients from HAI. Nurses and other staff should have a post-patient procedure which makes it safe for them to move on to new patients without the risk of infecting them.

Patient Mix Ups

Treating the wrong patient is a common safety mistake in healthcare facilities and one that’s entirely down to human error. Errors in treating the right patient extend beyond mismedicating.  Because multiple staff members will be treating patients at any one time, it’s easy for wires to be crossed when staff communicate about patients, resulting in tests being applied to the wrong patient, treatments to be misapplied and even discharge to take place accidentally.

Eliminating patient mix ups is something every healthcare facility can achieve by putting rigorous systems in place and ensuring staff are adequately trained and supported. Cross referencing patient names with date of birth before any action is taken provides a double lock on patient treatment.

Pressure Ulcers

There are a wide range of reasons why an inpatient’s mobility may be compromised, from broken bones to induced comas. The dangers of immobility for patients are surprisingly profound and it’s easy for medical staff to overlook mobility as a priority in a patient’s treatment. Pressure ulcers are a common occurrence when immobility is combined with poor nutrition, and the development of ulcers dramatically increases the chance of contracting further infection.

A patient mobility programme should be set in place ensuring that immobile patients are regularly turned, relieving pressure from any one spot. On top of this practice nurses should be trained to assess for the developing stages of ulcers and be empowered to intervene where necessary.

Data Management Failures

Properly implemented data management systems can lead to improved health outcomes in healthcare facilities. The amount of data generated in such facilities can lead to insights resulting in improved rates of recovery, if data analytics are properly applied. Problematic data management systems are a common mistake that can severely compromise patient safety in healthcare facilities.

Data management issues can stem from a lack of analytic insight to more mundane problems of data entry. The misprocessing of patient data can lead to clinicians lacking the necessary information to provide proper treatment. Data entry in healthcare facilities is a vital component of care and it’s important for healthcare facilities to build administrative systems which are intuitive and enable their staff to collect and store data appropriately.

Checking Out

Healthcare facilities face diverse challenges when providing patient care and staff errors can be costly both in terms of patient outcomes and the bottom line. Eliminating these staff errors as much as possible will enable healthcare facilities to be profitable and safe for patients.


Katherine Rundell is a medical writer at Essay Writing Services and Academized.com. She has been published in the Lancet and BMJ, and is interested in how healthcare is provided in a changing landscape. She is also a proofreader at State Of Writing.

 

Patient Safety, Physician-Patient Relationship

Building a Better Virtual Patient Care Website


UPDATE: December 8, 2020

We are pleased to announce the launch of the new Virtual Patient Care website and chat line.

We hope that you’ll like the new streamlined look and resources.


We apologize for the inconvenience and unavailability of the Virtual Patient Care website.

We are building a better website to help better serve our patients.

Source: medical video visits by Bold Yellow from the Noun Project

 

 

Patient Safety, Respiratory Compromise

Survey Finds Clinicians Want Safer Ways to Test Lung Function

Need for Safer Lung Function Testing

New survey finds that fears of COVID-19 are the overwhelming reason for not conducting lung function tests during the pandemic.

Respondents to the survey (50%) would like a safer way to test lung function is needed, such as a non-aerosol procedure (28%) and software that would provide an analysis of lung function (20%).

New Technological Solutions

Both the spirometer and plethysmography are technologies that were developed in the 19th century. We searched the internet to identify new technological solutions to determine lung function testing.

Please click on the video below from 4DMedical about their XV Technology and how it delivers regional, functional lung imaging using existing hospital hardware.

After you’ve watched the video, please tell us what you think and if you know of new technological solutions for testing lung function.

Patient Safety, Respiratory Compromise

New Initiative to Help COPD Patients During COVID-19 Crisis Launched by Physician-Patient Alliance for Health and Safety

The Physician-Patient Alliance for Health and Safety (PPAHS) today announced the launch of a new initiative to help Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients during COVID-19, empowering them to better understand their conditions and to not delay seeking medical attention. The Virtual Patient Care initiative is supported by grants from GlaxoSmithKline and 4DMedical.

Read More

Patient Safety

Recovering from COVID-19

As new infections from COVID-19 hit record highs across the United States – totaling more than 140,000 in just one day on November 11, 2020, and deaths due to COVID exceeding 165,000, according to the John Hopkins University – hospitals are reaching their capacities.

According to the report of the Commonwealth Fund, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected Americans and, in particular, Blacks and Latinos, concluding:

Read More