July 09, 2006

Patient-Consumer Parade

The Patient-Consumer Parade published a blog carnival on the topic, "Why must we be ‘patient’? The blog is here and worth reading if you are not yet a regular there.

Penny Richards rightly points out on the Disability Studies blog at Temple University that the Rolling Rains post selected for honorable mention, Lithia Park Provides Wildlife Adventures, is a stretch. Then she offers an important observation in the form of a question about the carnival:

This is planned as a weekly event, so submit your "best writing about being a medical patient or healthcare consumer." The criteria must be fairly broad: for example, I'm not really sure how Scott Rains' travelogue at Oregon's Lithia Park counts as a "patient" experience (using a wheelchair, by itself, doesn't give you permanent and constant patient status, right?)

Excellent critique, Penny. Thank you for engaging the question! Constant vigilance for "medicalization" of disability is a key survival skill for anyone with a disability.

As an optic, vigilant monitoring for the inappropriate medical/patient power dynamic cuts to the heart of many problematic public, non-medical social interactions. Sometimes thoroughly understanding and explaining the classic distinction between "handicap" and "disability" is enough. Observing that pseudo-medicalized social relations is a likely cross-cultural power dynamic has made international travel easier on various Rolling Rains trips. The point at which it becomes possible to expose the fallacy of wheelchair users having "permanent and constant patient status" is always a point at which I introduce the concept of Universal Design.

The beauty of that intellectual dance step is that Universal Design embodies, in concrete fashion, the heritage of pan-disability culture.

The UD concept grew parallel to - and out of the same value base as - the disability rights legislative thrust that gave US citizens section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act (where the spinal cord injury community, to take one example, learned decisively that it was a major consumer powerhouse) and eventually the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Blogmaster Trapier clarified that

To answer your question, you're absolutely correct; using a wheelchair doesn't necessarily make you a "patient". But it does make you a healthcare "consumer," just as using a car makes you an automobile consumer or riding a plane makes you an airline consumer.

The purpose of the Patient-Consumer Parade, then, is to bring people together who 1) think of themselves as purely "patients," 2) consider themselves healthcare "consumers," and 3) are someplace in between!

Disability Studies, Temple U.: A Parade, and a Podcast

There is an art to being an effective "impatient patient" if the goal is to become a formidable self-advocate and well-informed consumer of medicine and durable medical goods.

I wonder if there is a further line of questions to be asked. The doctor/patient relationship is a complex power dynamic. Does something unique take place when the patient is disabled? If nearly everyone can fit under the category of healthcare consumer is there something that makes a person with a disabiity distinct as such a consumer?

Returning to the Rolling Rains topic of travel. Did you know that there is a travel niche known as "Medical Travel?" Universal Design is making an impact on regional medical travel in British Columbia. Perhaps the experiences of such travelers has something important for those in medical profession to study and integrate into their practice.


Late addition:
See Patient-Consumer Parade 2 here.

Posted by rollingrains at July 9, 2006 10:26 PM