Getting Patients To Take Charge Of Their Health

Fri, 01/13/2012 - 5:52am
Pauline W. Chen, M.D., New York Times blog

One afternoon, I heard a colleague let out an exasperated groan in front of the hospital computers. His patient had been admitted. Again.

Overweight for much of his youth, the patient developed diabetes in his early 30s, then high blood pressure a few years later. By the time he was in his 40s, he had become so debilitated by a heart attack, congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, arthritic joint pains and his ever-increasing weight that he could no longer work.

Now in his 50s, his forays outside his home were limited to doctors’ offices or the hospital, where he would show up with out-of-control blood sugars, chest pains, an infection attacking his legs or feet or, as it was this time, shortness of breath.

My colleague stood up, bracing himself. “I hate to say it, but I feel like he’s done this to himself,” he said.

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