I’m teaching this week — health informatics to nurses, public health and health administration students. Last
week we discussed standards and interoperability; and it reminded me of a story. The memory was triggered by student discussions. One said it must

have been difficult to receive excellent medical care 50 years ago without todays health information tools. The other reviewed the DICOM standards, which were developed and are maintained to meet needs for evolving medical imaging technologies.

First, I’ll stay it wasn’t always difficult, but there was a bit of fortune or luck involved in care and treatment relying on paper…


Medical errors, delays in care, bias and misunderstandings are most often the result in communication failures. In fact, most lawsuits filed by patients and/or their families are the result of communication issues that sometimes lead to poor outcomes. This is why it is so important for patients and their family caregivers to pay attention, speak up and advocate for themselves throughout their course of treatment and care processes. The greatest risk is to assume that professional caregivers know what they are doing. Keep in mind, they are human and imperfect like the rest of us. Doctors and nurses can also…


Cannabinoid products (CBD) are appearing everywhere and in different forms. We can find salves, chews, gummies, bath bombs, oils, concentrates and beverages on store shelves and online. While high quality CBD can be effective in addressing some of our health challenges, the key is making sure we are using products that actually include CBD.

Leafreport, a CBD watchdog, is introducing transparency into the CBD industry through its patient-focused, educational content and medical reviews. Their medical review team consists of physicians, chemists, nutritionists, pharmacists, chemists and naturopaths. …


In late May, as talk of opening up the economy began, I started to think of my mother and her primary caregiver; my father. They both need my support and assistance as they face the challenges of a serious chronic illness, so I told my husband it was time for a trip.

As a planner, I took a week to think through the process of travelling across five (some large) states. There was uncertainty, curfews and shutdowns. I learned from my actual experiences and think others might appreciate my travel tips given their own compromised health status.

1. Hand sanitizer…


I was recently asked how did I learn to advocate for myself as a patient. This made me reflect on my career in health administration, where I recognized the importance of patients advocating for themselves early in my journey. In fact, my desire to become a hospital administrator was grounded in an interest to remove barriers and challenges so nurses, doctors and other clinicians could provide the best care possible.

In the 1990’s I saw how ineffective communication could jeopardize patient safety and harm patients. …


I’ve been quietly watching as panic buying of toilet paper (TP) and water has unfolded. What I’ve seen reinforces my preparedness belief, because if you aren’t already prepared you may not have TP to use in your potty when it is needed. However, I started to get more concerned today after a shopping trip to CostCo and something I observed.

While walking past the toilet paper section on my way to the groceries, I noticed the empty racks of TP and several people with stacks of Kleenex and/or dinner napkins in their basket. Given the number of people and the…


Stopping unacceptable behaviors to keep those with dementia, and others, safe.

Tensions often exist between individual rights and liberties and those of a family, neighborhood or community. No where does this delicate balance seem to get tested more than in the areas of mental health and cognitive impairment. The latter of which is most often seen in cases involving Alzheimer’s and other dementia.

Clinicians and other healthcare professionals have learned through trial and error to walk the fine line of respect for the individual’s wishes and safety of others. Legislation creates a framework and the setting of clear expectations helps set the boundaries for interactions.

But, what about families and friends. How do they know where the line between acceptable and unacceptable behavior lies if their lens is clouded by love, guilt, shock, disbelief, confusion, frustration or being fatigued from compassion. …


Online support groups provide tremendous insight into healthcare social media. More specifically, about how patients and family caregivers use these tools to get advice on their challenges, threats and needs. These online networks have revealed opportunities to improved the education of at-risk patients and their family caregivers; especially those struggling with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Too often I find myself recommending that caregivers call Adult Protective Services in their area to file a report and request an investigation and support.

The Social Security Act of 1974 allows states to use Social Service Block Grant funding to protect older adults and…


I just returned from a long trip to help my dad care for my mom. I was able to get my own scheduled treatments shifted over to providers in that state and community.

Upon arriving at my parents’ home; I assessed a serious state and quickly got to work taking steps, as any nurse would, to improve my mom’s condition. My efforts were a ultimately a success and I felt comfortable returning to my own home and family; after having been there through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years day.

At first, I was happy to cook, clean, organize, shop, as…


There is a wonderful book for caregivers that offers expert advice … from a caregiver. It is focused on her experience caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, however, the experiences and advice are relevant for those suffering from dementia… and really any chronic conditions. There are lessons learned for us all… including patients.

One thing I see too often on my dementia/Alzheimer’s Facebook page is the struggle caregivers have with the behaviors of our loved ones. I saw it myself during a trip to help my dad care for my mom. Modeling different types of responses to our loved one’s questions…

Christina Beach Thielst

A former hospital administrator with new insight into the patient and family caregiver perspective. Blogging since 2005 at thielst.typepad.com

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