Saturday, May 9, 2009

Research in health care

It has been a busy week. My volunteer work with Hospice Muskoka has consumed me, in a good way. Friday was the marvellous Butterfly Ball! I am happy to give back to my community. I truly believe, as I stated in my book, that every client/patient dealing with cancer needs a Patient Advocate. This is why I wrote about our desperate attempt to secure adequate health care for my mother and father. I think the issue is time. With too few professionals out there and the demands of reporting procedures, concerns about accountability and such, we are hard-pressed to do the things that are the most important.

My time I have spent reading about senior health issues, such as palliative care and pain management. I have Google alerts for these topics and happened upon a BBC News article on how pediatric cancer patients are dying from infections. In this world, we do much research, yet we ignore much of it, as well. We focus on our "To Do" lists, at the expense of quality care and continuity of care for patients. We do not focus on needs versus wants. We have pediatricians, yet very few geriatricians. Why is this? Seniors illnesses are complicated by infirmities and chronic comorbidities that require specialists and an intensive health network. Caregiver burnout is a debilitating issue.

I keep up on these issues, and like to reflect on what we really know, such as Best Practices Blogger, a terrific resource freely available, yet I have found in health care, as with education, we have proven research on what works well in a hospital (or classroom). This simple information on hand washing, pain management, can prevent the transmission of bacteria or viruses, such as Swine Flu. We know that viruses are mutating, partly due to drug-resistant superbugs such as MRSA, or C. Difficile. There are many barriers to good health and health care, being hospitalized or bedridden is one compounding factor. Case conferences are a good way for a family to ensure that we have treatment plans and assessment tools to determine the best course of action.

Is this just me or do others find this as they move through the world? We know a great deal but it is simply not applied to every day life. With an increasing number of people with chronic disease, and a limited number of health care practitioners (e.g., orphan patients), we will be even further disadvantaged. Caregivers must be assertive, sometimes aggressive, and ensure that health needs are being met.

No comments: