Participatory medicine is a relatively new term coined by patient advocacy groups. It sounds good, so how do we define it? Does it include knowing your medical history, maintaining a personal health record, being observant of maintaining one’s health with proper exercise, being knowledgeable about good nutrition, compliance with medication instructions, reading your medication side effects and/or contra-indications, knowing and telling your providers about allergies (on every visit), getting recommended vaccinations each year for flu, and pneumovax at the appropriate times?
Have you signed an advanced directive, and is it in your medical chart? When you enter a hospital do you instruct registration and/or your nurse that you do or do not have an advanced directive? Do you bring all your medication bottles to the hospital? (Yes, even aspirin, Tylenol, decongestants, eye drops and sleeping medications. Do you tell providers about the supplements and vitamins you use, including herbals? Have you travelled recently? Many of our modern day powerful drugs are concentrates or synthetics developed from herbs. Do you practice yoga, meditation, reiki, acupuncture, massage therapy? Have you travelled recently?
How far can you participate? You cannot hold a retractor or make your own incision for surgery, however you can be certain your nurse or other health care personnel know your name and to be certain that you are not getting someone else's medications or being taken for a procedure intended for someone else. You can tell personnel which side of your body is being operated upon. Operating rooms now have a standard check-off list including a “time out” in which everyone participates.
There are a great number of items in which you can participate and many that you cannot. You can tell your nurse and/or doctor to wash their hands (they often just plain forget in the rush that has become part of medical care.
You can take a shower or bath prior to entering a hospital to reduce the possibility of transmitting an unknown pathogen on your skin, such as drug resistant bacteria like MRSA (methicillin resistant staphylococcus) And if you are a known carrier of MRSA or someone in your family is a MRSA carrier, certain precautions will be taken by hospital staff (if you tell them)
None of these items create any increase in cost, all likely improve outcomes, decrease “never happen” events and do not increase the paperwork burden on the system.