The Real Patient’s Bill of Responsibilities

I’ve blogged about the “Real Patient’s Bill of Rights”, and while I am a strong patient advocate, I’d be remiss if I didn’t blog about the “Real Patient’s Bill of Responsibilities.” If we have a right to healthcare, then it follows that we certainly have responsibilities associated with that right. So, here I go – I’ll take the first stab at what I think the “Real Patient’s Bill of Responsibilities” should be. I know some of you will strongly agree with these and some of you will strongly disagree. Either way, go ahead and share your thoughts. Here’s my take on the “Real Patient’s Bill of Responsibilities:”

  1. You have the responsibility to get a second opinion when you don’t agree with your doctor’s advice (unless he’s telling you to diet and exercise). Certified Legal Nurse Consultants know from experience that not all medical advice is good advice.
  2. You have the responsibility to tell your healthcare provider the truth. The MD’s not stupid; he can tell from your BMI that you’re fudging on your diet (literally or not).
  3. You have the responsibility to eat foods that are good for you – not just foods that taste good. Sure it’s easier to eat from drive-throughs and the processed food aisles at the grocery store, but maybe it’s time to rediscover fresh veggies and healthy proteins.
  4. You have the full responsibility for your children’s eating habits and diet. Yes, I know it’s easier to get a child to eat McDonald’s fries than broccoli, but what are you teaching them?
  5. You have the responsibility to maintain a minimum level of fitness. You don’t have to look like Jillian Michaels, but you should be able to walk to the kitchen, or outside for a cigarette, without gasping for air or stopping to rest.
  6. Speaking of cigarettes, you have the responsibility to quit smoking. It’s 2013 and the evidence of health-related side effects is irrefutable – so why do you persist?
  7. You have the responsibility to see a physician occasionally. Not because that physician will do much, but because it makes you consciously think about the state of your health.
  8. Once you’ve had a blood panel, you have the responsibility to keep off statins. They’re not just bad for you, but they actually encourage the bad eating habits they’re trying to counteract the effects of. I know more than a few people taking Lipitor who sit in Denny’s and Popeye’s complaining of muscle pain and weakness. Duh!
  9. You have the responsibility to understand your pathology, prescribed meds and side effects.
  10. You have the responsibility to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Sure you’ll miss an episode or two of Game of Thrones, but your body needs sleep to restore itself and is key to a healthy body. Living with a sleep deficit leads to bad decisions and a host of pathologies.
  11. You won’t like this one, but you have the responsibility to give up wheat and products including wheat. There’s more and more scientific literature showing that wheat causes everything from excess abdominal body fat to “grain brain” – i.e., the inability to full concentrate. The government is fully invested in the food pyramid and won’t be turning it upside down anytime soon. Your granola, sweetened yogurt and healthy bagel start your day at an unnecessary deficit.
  12. You have the responsibility to give up sodas (diet or regular) and energy drinks. Water is healthier than anything that comes in a can or bottle. Oh yes, indulge in healthy green tea and you rev up your metabolism.
  13. You have the sole responsibility to take care of yourself. No one else (nurse or doctor) can, or will, do it for you.
  14. You have the responsibility to stay out of the hospital – yes you do. Your life depends on it. After 31 years in the legal nurse consulting business, I promise you can trust me on this one.

I’m Just Sayin’,

P.S. Before you print this blog and post it on your refrigerator, I’d like you to comment here to agree or disagree with the above.

11 thoughts on “The Real Patient’s Bill of Responsibilities

  1. I agree with all (I have a problem with the wheat thing – I know I need to get over it).

    I feel people need to own up to their responsibilities about their health. They have no problem going to buy cigarettes, alcohol, soda and okay wheat. Stop by the FREE public library and look up information on a particular disease or medication.

    I work as a Hospitalist and I feel everything goes in a vicious circle. Patients claim they did not know something or were never told something. “No one told me I was supposed to take that medication.” Meanwhile it is documented everywhere. Everyone wants to place blame…..step up to the plate. A healthy one!

  2. I agree! Our society has become so entitled that the majority forget what it means to be responsible for yourself. It’s a shame our government has to become so involved that they are only creating a bigger issue than already at hand. Education and responsibility go a long way………….

  3. You are more than “just saying”, but really SAY–ING!!! All your discussions in each area are really concise, to the point and sweetly presented. I must add to the wheat aspect because switching to gluten-free is happening in my home now. The cost of these products can be really significant to a food budget, and that’s before you get accustomed to taste differences. So I know you are thinking…pay now or pay later…but think about the below average to average income families. What is the answer??

    Obviously, I enjoyed and agreed with your blog completely. Now I will print it in bold print and put it on the fridge at home, church and work!!! That is the HEALTH ADVOCATES’ responsibility. Thank you….

  4. These are great items…and I totally get the concept that we should be more personally responsible for our health….I work in obstetrics and am so frustrated with the mindset of women who refuse to take care of themselves (i.e. get prenatal care, even when it is provided free, with free transportation if you just make the effort to make and keep your appointments) or refuse advice to stop smoking or adjust their diet and get exercise. There is nothing like trying to do FHR monitoring on a 400+ pound woman who smiles and says “the monitor didn’t work when I had my last baby, either.” The old adage “you can’t fix stupid”….well, the federal government is expecting healthcare workers to do just that…. so, I agree, as a nurse or physician, we must educate our patients appropriately, but HOW DO YOU HOLD PATIENTS ACCOUNTABLE for their choices??? It cannot always be someone else’s fault!

  5. Well said, Vickie! I totally agree with every step in the blog. Just like me, you are a no- nonsense nurse – you are real! Thanks for being you!

  6. Have you heard that old saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink” or the quote from Benjamin Franklin, “You can’t convince man or woman against their will because they will be of the same opinion still”?
    I tried for years to preach to my husband about all those rights above and even changed the grocery diet in the house, but to no avail. He just loves food and continued to go down the path of self-destruction. I would encourage everyone to take those patient responsibilities to heart or they can end up looking back on “only if I had done better and treated my body right, instead of ending up in a nursing home at the prime age of 65.”
    We have been married 40 years and the last 18 years, his health has gone south for not being responsible for his health in the beginning. Thank you for posting this because family members will read and save a lot of health issues.

  7. Vickie – I find myself agreeing with you almost 100%. I fall short on a few of those items and plan on doing better. I tend to see a physician when (or IF) I get ill. As one physician told me, “Merri, we need to see our patients when they’re healthy too. We, and YOU need that baseline.” I need to eat better, being somewhat overweight. I have lost considerable weight since moving to Florida, if I may say so myself. I found myself more thirsty than hungry, and greatly increased my water intake. It was here (Florida) where I discovered that despite my absolute addiction to Diet Pepsi, it doesn’t quench thirst – WATER does – a 12-pack would have lasted maybe 3 days (or less). Now, it lasts for more than a week. I think I found my 2014 New Year’s resolutions. I’m now going to print out this list of Patient’s Responsibilities. I have long believed that patients cannot always claim to be a victim in their health status, but have quite a few responsibilities as well. After all, it IS their body and they have a responsibility to know how it works and take an active role in that, as well as how to repair it. So I say “BRAVO” to your list. I agree with it and will make an effort to be more compliant with it going forward – for MY own good. I just hope that it makes its way off the blog and is seen more widely by patients. It should be posted in hospitals, or placed in the packet of information that they receive upon admission to most hospitals.

  8. I’ve always told my patients, clients, and family members that they are their own best advocates, that the doctors are not God, and that they MUST ask questions…I don’t care how much the doctor seems in a hurry. We must also remind patients’ loved ones that the patient has to be responsible for themselves at some point. Sometimes, as a mother of grown boys (West Texas males at that), I have to remind myself that they are not my babies anymore and I must let them sink or swim.

  9. Recently, I went alone to a neurologist for back problems leading to numbing feet and legs upon standing for long periods of time. He had been recommended as the best by my primary MD. He took a look at my medical Hx. and stated without questions or an exam/MRI that I have diabetic neuropathy. My medical hx lists a spinal cyst was aspirated years ago. Furious, I called the primary and relayed the information, requested a second opinion, and let him know I didn’t care to return to the “best”. Within an hour, he called back with an MRI date set up. At the f/u visit, with my husband in tow, the “best” explained I have a substantial narrowing of the spine pinching off the spinal column. My husband asked many pertinent questions, causing the doctor to stammer and deny stating it was just diabetic neuropathy. Many patients do follow the rights, but become intimidated or shamed by what an MD says or does.
    I have always recommended to patients and friends to take someone they trust with them to a doctor’s office for support, comfort, and an extra pair of ears/questioner.
    As far as statins–working on getting off them, wheat changed to whole grains.
    Thank you for the list and I will share it with everyone.

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*The opinions and statements made by Vickie Milazzo, the founder of Medical-Legal Consulting Institute, Inc. are based on her experiences and expertise, should not be applied beyond the specific context provided, and do not guaranty or project actual results. Vickie Milazzo is no longer involved in the operations or management of the business, but is involved as an independent education consultant.

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