How to Become a Patient’s Advocate

doctor and patientYou can help hospitalized friends or loved ones by being their patient advocate—the person who will help them work with physicians, nurses and hospital staff. To help your loved ones make the best decisions about their care and treatment, here is some advice:

  • Know what condition your loved one is being treated for.
  • Know your loved one’s rights and responsibilities.
  • Know whether or not your loved one has an advance directive and if so, what it specifies.
  • If your loved one is too ill or reluctant to ask questions, make note of his or her concerns and any you may have. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
  • Will your loved one need home care or care at another facility? Speak with a member of their care team to find out your options.

Living with Epilepsy: Life without Limits

Epilepsy PhotoSeizures may be part of your life, but they shouldn’t control it. Duke Medicine invites people with epilepsy, their families and caregivers to join us for a daylong symposium with experts on current issues facing people with epilepsy. Meet fellow patients and learn more about:
• Advocacy
• Medical Marijuana
• IOM Report: Epilepsy Across the Spectrum: Promoting Health and Understanding

This event will take place Saturday, November 1 from 9 am until 5 pm at the Trent Semans Center. Registration and breakfast will begin at 8 am. Snacks and lunch will be provided.

Admission is free. Click here to register online or call 888-ASK-DUKE.

Advance Directives

DSC_0012You have the right to make decisions about your own medical treatment. These decisions become more difficult if, due to illness or a change in mental condition, you are unable to tell your physician and loved ones what kind of healthcare treatments you want. That is why it is important for you to make your wishes known in advance.

What are Advance Directives?
A living will, healthcare proxy and durable power of attorney are the legal documents that allow you to give direction to medical personnel, family and friends concerning your future care when you cannot speak for yourself. You do not need a lawyer to complete advance directives. Here is a brief description of each kind of directive:

Living Will
A living will is a set of instructions documenting your wishes about life-sustaining medical care. It is used if you become terminally ill, incapacitated or unable to communicate or make decisions. A living will protects your rights to accept or refuse medical care and removes the burden of making decisions from your family, friends and medical professionals.

Healthcare Power of Attorney
A Healthcare Power of Attorney is a person (agent) you appoint to make your medical decisions if you are unable to do so. Choose someone you know well and trust to represent your preferences. Be sure to discuss this with the person before naming him or her as your agent. Remember that an agent may have to use his or her judgment in the event of a medical decision for which your wishes aren’t known.

For more information, visit dukeregional.org/plan.

Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality

HEI 2014_bug finalWe are proud to have been recognized for the third year in a row as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, through their Healthcare Equality Index 2014. The Healthcare Equality Index is an annual survey that encourages equal care for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans and recognizes healthcare institutions doing the best work.

Duke Regional was one of 426 healthcare facilities nationwide to be named Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality. Facilities awarded this title meet key criteria, including patient and employee non-discrimination policies that specifically mention sexual orientation and gender identity, a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents and LGBT health education for key staff members.

For more information about the Healthcare Equality Index 2014, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/hei.

Improving Stroke Care

FAST2According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the number four cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds; someone dies of a stroke every four minutes; and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year.

Given these alarming statistics, Duke Regional takes stroke care very seriously. We have worked to improve care for our stroke patients and have been awarded several times by many organizations as a result. Most recently we received the Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold-Plus Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

We earned this award by meeting specific quality achievement measures, including aggressive use of medications and risk-reduction therapies aimed at reducing death and disability and improving the lives of stroke patients.

In addition, we received the association’s Target: Stroke Honor Roll for meeting stroke quality measures that reduce the time between hospital arrival and treatment with the clot-buster tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke. People who suffer a stroke who receive the drug within three hours of the onset of symptoms may recover quicker and are less likely to suffer severe disability.

We also take the time to educate stroke patients to manage their risk factors, be aware of warning signs for stroke and ensure they take their medications properly. Additionally, we offer a monthly stroke support group for stroke patients and the community. To register for an upcoming session, click here.

To learn more about stroke, visit strokeassociation.org

Enjoy Fall Fruits and Veggies

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Elizabeth Villalta, MS, RD, LDN

Registered dietician Elizabeth Villalta of the Duke Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery shares ways you can incorporate fall’s finest fruits and vegetables into your meals.

As we head into fall, there is no need to decrease our produce intake. We should (and can) continue to eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fall is a great time for squash, cranberries, ginger, mushrooms, passion fruit, sweet potatoes, turnips and more. Below are a few ways you can enjoy fall produce.

Acorn Squash
Acorn squash can be added as a side dish or sauce, or steal the show as the main entrée! If you’re tired of the same old spaghetti dinner, try cooking thinly sliced acorn squash just like you would spaghetti. Acorn squash is fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free and a good source of vitamin C. One-half cup of acorn squash contains just seven grams of carbohydrates, where one-half cup of spaghetti contains 21 grams. Click here for more ways to enjoy acorn squash.

Cranberry
Cranberry is another fall classic that is low in fat and sodium and a good source of vitamin C and fiber. While this fruit is often thought of with a big turkey dinner, cranberries can be added to breakfast cereal, trail mix and even dessert. For more ideas on adding cranberry into your diet click here.

Pumpkin
It isn’t just for carving! Pumpkin can be incorporated into everything from soup and salad to muffins and dessert. Are you looking to try a new smoothie recipe? Try adding pumpkin into your shake! Pumpkin seeds are also a fun seasonal treat and a good source of protein. Click here for 10 great ways to add pumpkin into your fall diet.

Know Your Medications

Assortment of pills and supplementsYou play an important role in helping reduce medication errors. Be sure you understand exactly what you are taking and why. Use this checklist to help you get the information you need from your physician:

  • What is the name of the medicine? What is its generic name?
  • Why am I taking this medicine?
  • What dose will I be taking? How often, and for how long?
  • When will the medicine begin to work?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • Can I take this medicine while taking my other medications or dietary supplements?
  • Are there any foods, drinks or activities I should avoid while taking this medicine?
  • Should I take my medicine at meals or between meals?
  • Do I need to take the medicine on an empty stomach or with food or a whole glass of water?
  • What should I do if I forget to take the medicine and miss a dose?

Preventing Medication Errors
Be sure all your physicians know what medications you have been taking, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, herbal and vitamin supplements, natural remedies and recreational drugs.

Be sure all your physicians know of any allergies you may have—to medications, anesthesia, foods, latex products, etc.