The Take-Charge Patient
Martine Ehrenclou, M.A
Lemon Grove Press, LLC (2012)
ISBN 9780981524030
Reviewed by Beth Boynton, RN, MS for Confident Voices (June 24, 2012)

Author, Patient Advocate, Speaker and Patient, Martine Ehrenclou, M.A. has written a well-researched, understandable, comprehensive and powerful book that will help patients navigate our complex healthcare system while positively contributing to the evolution of the system itself! “The Take-Charge Patient: How YOU Can Get the Best Medical Care” is an outstanding resource for a variety of reasons.

The material covered includes communicating with physician(s) and the healthcare team, preventing medication errors, choosing and becoming a patient advocate, navigating a hospital stay, understanding your insurance plan, negotiating discounts, disease prevention, and legal documents. She also provides information on chronic care, telemedicine, concierge practices, tests and procedures and more. That’s why it is a comprehensive book. Ehrenclou’s writing is successful in explaining many complicated aspects of our healthcare system in a way that is understandable and engaging!

In addition to sharing her own story, she utilizes other patient’s stories, quotes from healthcare professionals, resources, and a very exciting two-pronged approach to ‘Patient Safety Checklists’. There are checklists at the end of many chapters and additional checklists grouped at the end of the book. They empower patients with questions designed to take ownership of their care with things that they are responsible for and holding physicians, nurses and pharmacists accountable for their roles. This is an extremely important step creating more collaborative healthcare teams and systems.

For example the first three questions are taken from chapter 2, (How to Become a Take-Charge Patient) and the second three from an addendum at the end of the book, (Patient Safety Checklists and Sample Questions for Yourself and Your Doctor).

“Am I ready to be a team player in my healthcare?”
“Am I ready to ask questions when I don’t understand something?”
“Am I ready to understand what medications I’m taking?”
“What will the surgery do for me?”
“What happens if the surgery is not successful?”
“Would you mind if I talked with one or two of your other patients who had the surgery?

In addition to individual use, I can envision it as a teaching resource for:

  • High School health courses.
  • Adult educational programs.
  • Hospital community outreach education efforts.

In a next edition or subsequent book, there is room for more emphasis on nursing, additional healthcare team members, (P.T., O.T., S.T, MSW, and para professionals) rehabilitation and long-term care.

Overall, the “Take-Charge Patient” is a great book for a lot of reasons. It is an outstanding book because of it’s ability progress our system from an old ‘us – them’ paternalistic model to a progressive ‘we’ collaborative one. I believe this is critical for safer, kinder, more cost-effective care.