A Few Things To Know About Outpatient Surgery.. Before You Go

outpatient surgeryElecting to have surgery is a big decision, and can sometimes be an overwhelming one. However, there are some simple rules you can follow to help make surgery a positive experience, and to aid in the decision making process.

Surgical procedures are never to be taken lightly, so it is wise to do your research before selecting a facility. Here, we provide 8 tips to get you started.

How To Choose the Best Surgical Facility

1. Visit the facility before you elect to go there. Talk to some of the staff. Check out the cleanliness and friendliness of the office. Look at the cleanliness of the bathrooms. This is a big indicator of the overall upkeep of the facility. People overlook this step often, but it’s very important.

2. Ask for a second (or third) opinion about the operation you are having. Know what to expect. The morning after is not usually pleasant, so be prepared for it.

3. Consider the distance. It may sound minor, but it isn’t. Surgeries are very often early in the morning, even 5 AM or earlier. Nothing can be more aggravating before or particularly AFTER a surgery than driving an extreme distance. Anything over an hour should be considered as a factor in the decision making process.

4. Choosing the right surgeon is very important. You should feel a rapport with your surgeon and feel comfortable with him/ her. If you are not comfortable, don’t be afraid to ask for someone else.

5. Specialists are the best-ialists! Pick a doctor that specializes in your type of surgery. They are usually the best at it. If you are having knee replacement surgery, for example, the doctor that does mainly knee replacements is going to do the best work.

6. . Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Hearing success stories from other patients can help put your mind at ease.  Search for instances or occurrences of your surgeons reviews online. Chances are if there are some negative attributes or people who found the experience to be unsatisfactory, there will be some mention and information about it online.

7. Voice your concern. If you have questions or concerns about the procedure make them known up front. Make sure that your questions are answered and that you are confident that the doctor understands what your concerns are beforehand. You don’t want any miscommunication with the surgeon on the procedure and possible outcomes.

8. Don’t let money be the determining factor, (if possible). This is a huge decision and the benefits of picking the right surgeon and facility outweigh saving a few dollars. Of course we are all on a budget, so pay attention to what costs may seem exorbitant.

Finally, make sure you are having the operation for the right reasons and that you can live with the possible outcomes. In some cases the outcome isn’t always what you hope for so be prepared for that. If you do decide that the surgery is the right thing to do, following these rules will make the process a more pleasant and comfortable experience.

About the Author

Megan Morris is a freelance writer specializing in medical reporting.  More of what she’s published in the healthcare arena can be found at Top 10 Best Online Healthcare Administration Degree Programs.

Medical Billing: A Blind Walk In A Crowded Zoo?

medicalBillingMedical billing can feel like a blind walk in a crowded zoo for most consumers. They can walk into a pen and not know if they are going to encounter a lion or a bunny. In fact, they are walking blindly in a crowded zoo with all of the pen doors open because they can encounter any animal in any facility. That is, they can walk into a hospital and be charged $50,000 when another hospitals charge $5,000. They could even be charged significantly different rates for the same service in the same hospital than another patient. The difference between the hospital and the zoo is that most hospital patients never even know when they’ve been bitten.

In an attempt to bring sight to consumers, the United States Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is releasing a “chargemaster” price vs. Medicare payment list for the 100 most common inpatient treatments of 2011.
Steven Brill addresses Kathleen Sebelius’ statements in the news-breaking article, “An End to Medical Billing Secrecy?”. He defines “chargemaster” prices as the listed prices for services. In a separate article, “Hospitals Dismiss Significance of Chargemaster Prices“, Ron Shinkman goes so far as to define them as “internal price lists…used as a basis to extract far higher payments from uninsured patients…” Obviously, Steven Brill shares his sentiment as he discusses the disadvantageous billing procedures for uninsured patients.

Price Vs. Cost

The release of billing chargemaster prices vs. Medicare payments is significant for several reasons. First, it shows the extreme difference between hospital price and actual cost. This information is significant in the qualifications of nonprofit hospitals. Second, it brings to light the drastic price difference between hospitals for the same services. In other words, it could bring more price competition to the medical market. Third, it will spurn further data collection and market and consumer action.

But, Kathleen Sebelius and her team are already thinking ahead. They are offering money to would-be data collection centers to expand current data with the future goal of expanding data type. Strategies for gathering this information are also being discussed. That’s good, because Sebelius’ project will certainly run into significant obstacles. For one thing, no hospital will want to make their actual billing prices public. Insurance companies will be just as stingy with their documentations. On the one hand, companies paying lower rates won’t want to share their advantages. On the other hand, companies paying higher rates won’t want to suffer professional embarrassment. The only option left is bill-copy submissions from consumers. Sebelius suggests that patients may be more willing to do this if their name is kept private. She has also offered the same deal for insurance companies, but no one is holding their breath.

5 Ways Dietitians Contribute to Global Health

dietitianIn a world that is becoming more health conscious daily, the role of the dietitian is critical. Dietitians study how the right food choices will enhance a healthy lifestyle. They offer practical plans to manage certain chronic illnesses such as diabetes or Crohn’s disease, as well.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines this industry as growing faster than average. A career in this field can take you to many different settings from private practice to a clinical environment. Look at five ways dietitians contribute to global health.

Clinical Nutrition Professionals

The clinical dietitian is the face most people associated with the title. This is the person who visits you in the hospital to discuss your menu choices or the individual a doctor consults with when a patient has weight management issues or specific dietary restrictions.

In a clinical setting, the dietitian provides nutrition therapy to patients with a variety of complaints. This healthcare professional might work in a hospital, nursing home, rehabilitation center or a clinic. A clinical dietitian offers specialized services that include nourishment through feeding tubes, neonatal diets or parenteral nutrition.

Community Service

A community dietitian is part of a neighborhood or citywide wellness program. This includes working hand in hand with public health agencies, home care specialists and social services. The goal is to promote health within a specific geographic region. The age of patients can be from newborn to elderly.

Food Service Industry

A food service dietitian manages meal planning that focuses on a large group. This specialized career path encompasses many different opportunities. The role might take you to a prison system, for example, or a public school program. Some dietitians work in corporate restaurants to help plan nutritionally sound menus that will be popular with consumers, and more and more grocery store chains are adding registered dietitians to their employment rosters as well. Any business that offers large-scale food production can potentially have a certified dietitian at the helm.

Gerontological Nutritionist

As a person ages, their nutritional needs change. A gerontological dietitian focuses on the challenges elderly people face. This advanced level specialty requires further education in gerontology. Professionals in this field work in nursing homes, memory care centers, with community-based senior citizens programs and in government agencies. The may educate other healthcare professionals in gerontology nutrition, as well.

Pediatric Dietitians

Like the gerontological dietitians, working with children takes specialized training. The pediatric dietitian fosters healthy eating at an early age. The need for professionals in this field is growing due to the escalating issue of childhood obesity. A dietitian in this field can work in the school system, in community-based programs, in healthcare facilities or as part of a pediatric service. A pediatric dietitian covers not only lifestyle choices but also eating disorders and food allergies.

The one common denominator all these roles have is food. A dietitian teaches others how food affects the human body. It is their mission to encourage proper eating to improve your health.

About the Author

Health researcher Miriam Mcneil, author of Salaries for Health Science Degree, writes for numerous online resources about all issues related to human health.

When Weight Gets In The Way: Overweight Physicians and Their Patients

overweight doctorWhen your doctor advises you to shed a few pounds, do you buy a pair of gym shoes and look for a healthy diet plan? According to this recent New York Times article, the answer may depend on your doctor’s lifestyle as much as your own. Studies show that doctors lose credibility when they carry extra weight, especially when they are advising healthy lifestyle changes for their patients.

Societal Bias Hurts Outcomes

It has long been known that bias against overweight individuals is widely prevalent in society, and is one of the last socially accepted prejudices. In surveys, participants routinely judge overweight people to be less industrious, less trustworthy, and more lazy than their normal weight counterparts. But more recent research also shows that this bias extends to people’s evaluation of a doctor’s professional competency. Regardless of the weight of the patient, patients were more likely to leave overweight doctors to seek care from another provider. Additionally, they were less likely to follow medical advice given by overweight doctors.

An Awkward Conversation

To some patients, advice to lose weight may seem hypocritical when it comes from another overweight person. It may also seem that since the doctor is unable to manage his or her own weight, the doctor’s advice may not work for the patient. In any event, patients of overweight doctors are less likely to lose weight than patients of normal-weight doctors. But there may be more to this finding that meets the eye. According to this Time Magazine article, overweight doctors may change their interactions with overweight patients, based on conscious or subconscious discomfort addressing the subject. Overweight doctors were less likely to advise overweight patients to lose weight, more likely to prescribe weight loss medications, and less likely to discuss lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise.

Better Communication, Better Results

So what can overweight doctors do to improve patient retention and compliance? First of all, making healthy lifestyle changes in their own lives is a good place to start. Unfortunately, physicians have the same struggles and blind spots about body size as their patients do. Physicians consistently underestimate their own weights and estimate their body sizes to be smaller than those of their patients with equal body mass indices. In the interim, studies suggest that doctors should be open and honest with their patients about their own weight loss struggles. When a doctor tells a patient that he or she has the same struggles with snacks, busy lifestyle, aches and pains, or lack of exercise as the patient does, the doctor builds the patient’s confidence, creates a team approach to health, and shows compassion and empathy to which patients usually respond favorably.

The best approach for overweight doctors may be to combine both of these recommendations. When doctors improve their own health, they improve their ability to treat patients and they improve their patient’s impressions of their medical abilities. By being open and honest with patients and sharing their experiences and struggles, physicians can use their own healthy lifestyles to improve patient health. When doctors and patients work together, everyone benefits.

Combat Nurses Combine Clinical Skills With Military Expertise

combat nurseWorking on a mannequin may seem like child’s play compared to treating real life injuries on soldiers, but this is how future combat nurses sharpen their skills. When nurses are deployed to battlefronts such as Afghanistan and Iraq, they see injuries that are related to warfare, but may not have all the training they need. This necessity for combat nurses is extreme since, along with soldiers in the US Military, these nurses also treat civilians, Iraqi police, and military personnel from other countries. The knowledge that combat training for nurses provides primarily helps victims who have been shot or have severe burns from military grade weaponry.

According to a recent video article on Web.MD, nurses enter combat medicine training program in two ways. The first is after they have spent some time in military operations that are hospital-related. If circumstances are in this individual’s favor, they are sent to have additional combat training, including a master’s degree in nursing. In these cases, any member of the military that already has experience with working in a hospital setting is placed into an accelerated nursing program specifically for training combat nurses. Other future combat nurses come into the program with no nursing background at all. For those without hospital experience, they are placed in entry level training positions with a focus on combat.

Focus on Trauma

Regardless of how much experience a new combat nurse trainee has, one of the primary areas of medicine that combat hospitals will train in is trauma. In particular, focus is needed on small range trauma that can occur from gunshot wounds and improvised explosive devices. This training is divided into three main categories: emergency room nursing, trauma nursing and critical care nursing. At the end of the program, these areas of medicine are fine-tuned so that their skills can be used by the US Military in combat medical situations.

Specialized Training for Combat Nurses

Are you curious about what you can expect when you enter a program of this nature? Depending on your background, the programs are either long-term or short-term. For instance, the Medical Surgical Simulation Center (MSSC) at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego (NMCSD) trains combat nurses but does not award a master’s degree in nursing. In addition to a two-day training course for nursing military personnel that are about to deploy, the MSSC also offers courses such as rapid response, cardiothoracic and resuscitative equipment training.

Long-term training for combat nurses can be provided by the military at specialized institutions. Many of these programs are part of the Army Nurse Corps and are geared toward active or reserve duty military personnel. However, combat nursing training is also found in civilian-based institutions such as universities. For example, nursing degrees with a focus on International Health prepare graduates for combat nursing.

In the end, it is clear that there are many avenues for getting your foot in the door with combat nursing training. Overall, people that complete the combat nursing program find it rewarding. For example, one person in the aforementioned WebMD video said that they entered the program because they wanted to jump at the chance to learn new skills that will improve their performance in the military. Obviously, through clinical experiences and furthering their education, students of combat nursing gain a larger income bracket along with a higher sense of confidence.