• Sample pages
  • Page 1


    Bill was 61 years old and eagerly anticipating retirement from the police force in another year. Yet suddenly, he was contemplating his own mortality in his last months on the job.

    The doctor’s words had hit him like a sledgehammer.

    “You have a brain tumor and you need brain surgery,” Bill recalls of that stressful day he sat alone across from his neurosurgeon. “I was completely blown away.”

    Though he had noticed his symptoms had been getting progressively worse — numbness of the face, dizziness, and hearing difficulties — he never considered that cancer could be the cause.

    “The doctor told me I had an acoustic neuroma, which is basically a brain tumor. He said that I had to have surgery as soon as possible to have it removed. I left the office in a fog and just sat in my car and cried.”

    Because he didn’t want to alarm his wife, Bill called his union benefits office. The office called us.

    We listened to Bill’s story and when he was finished, we explained to him that traditional surgery is not the only treatment option for an acoustic neuroma. We pointed out that gamma knife treatment, which doesn’t actually involve a knife but uses beams of gamma radiation, is often used in the treatment of acoustic neuromas.

    We recommended that he get a second opinion to explore this option. Bill heaved a huge sigh of relief.

    A week later, Bill was seen by another neurosurgeon whose facility offered the gamma knife treatment.

  • Page 2

    “I liked what he said a lot better,” Bill remembers. “He looked at the same MRI that I showed the first neurosurgeon. He said that acoustic neuromas are typically not fast-growing, so rather than go in quickly to remove it, he wanted to watch it for another six months and get a repeat MRI, then see me back in the office.”

    Six months and another MRI later, Bill returned to the second neurosurgeon for the follow-up appointment. Though Bill’s symptoms had improved since that first visit, he was understandably anxious.

    The neurosurgeon greeted us cordially and put Bill’s MRI on the light box.

    “That’s interesting,” he said. “It’s gone. The tumor is gone.”

    • • •

    Bill’s story is true and it reveals a universal truth in healthcare: Whenever you get a diagnosis that is serious or life-threatening, you should get a second opinion. Studies have shown that getting a second opinion alters the diagnosis 30% of the time.

    Your doctor would get a second opinion, if he or she were the patient. Yet only 20% of patients do. Why? It’s usually a combination of things: Fear. Confusion. Inertia. Concern about offending the doctor. And lack of knowledge on how to proceed.

    On top of all that, this decision must be made at a time when you are under enormous stress. You’ve just been told by your physician that you have cancer. You’ve been told that you need surgery, followed by chemotherapy. Your world, your life as you know it, has been turned upside down. All you want to do is “get it out.”

    The thought of getting a second opinion — and the time and energy that goes into it — is overwhelming and frankly, not a priority. Who would you go to, anyway? You are focused on beating cancer and you want to start that battle right away! Full speed ahead!

    Most of our patients tell us that they not only don’t know who to go to for a second opinion, they haven’t a clue how to make it happen.

  • About the Author

    Two phone calls, 17 years apart, changed the course of Betty Long’s life.

    The first came in 1982, when her father called to tell her that her mother had pancreatic cancer. Four months later, her mother was dead and Betty had shifted gears and decided to become a nurse.

    The second call came in 1999. Betty’s uncle was in intensive care. A procedure was needed and her elderly aunt asked plaintively “what should I do?” With that question, Betty again found a new calling.

    In that moment, the seed for Guardian Nurses Healthcare Advocates was planted.

    With 25 years of experience as a Registered Nurse and Administrator, Betty Long knows the healthcare system inside and out. As a caretaker for elderly relatives, she saw firsthand how difficult it is for patients and families to make the healthcare system work for them.

    She founded Guardian Nurses Healthcare Advocates to provide a voice for patients and families who feel they are not being heard. The company’s Nurse Advocates offer strong and independent support for corporate and private clients all over the United States.

    Long has seen how healthcare works at every level. She began her career in 1986 as a critical care nurse. She later earned a masters’ degree in healthcare administration and went on to leadership positions in hospital administration and healthcare consulting. She also has management experience in long-term care and outpatient services for seniors. Nationally, Long’s advocacy work has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, National Public Radio’s Marketplace and in The New York Times.

    Dr. Mehmet Oz also invited her to participate as an expert on the Sharecare website he created with Jeff Arnold. Sharecare is an interactive social Q&A site on which leading physicians, nurses, hospitals, clinics, authors, healthcare companies and non-profits share their collective expertise and answer consumers’ questions.

    In 2008, Long was honored by Glamour Magazine and Tag Heuer North America during the Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year gala at a reception hosted by Uma Thurman.

    The Guardian Nurses’ success story also has been featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Business Journal, the Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and the New England Healthcare Journal.

    Long serves on the Advisory Board of the Professional Patient Advocacy Institute and is also a contributing editor for Employee Benefit News, a monthly national magazine for employee-benefit professionals. She is frequently in demand as a speaker on healthcare advocacy for healthcare professionals, human resources professionals, insurance companies and groups and for consumers. Long shares practical healthcare advice each month in the free Guardian Nurses email newsletter, The Flame.

    “Parents and families get phone calls like the ones I got every day,” Long says, “calls that change the course of their lives in an instant. Cancer. Multiple sclerosis. Heart attack. Alzheimer’s. Nurses know how the healthcare system works. We can make it work for you.”

$4.95  buy now

Getting a Second Opinion

If getting a second opinion is so important, why don’t more patients get one? Find out how to go about pursuing a second opinion when it counts.

Research has shown that getting a second opinion results in new diagnoses in as many as 30% of all cases yet in spite of the apparent value, few patients get them. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, “Only 20% of people who seek medical care every year get a second opinion” and yet, as evidenced by the resulting new diagnoses, it can be a game changer. Patients express fear that their doctor “will not like it” or they “don’t want to offend” their doctor. And more pragmatically, even if they do want to, patients don’t know HOW to go about getting one. This e-book will explain in great detail how to pursue a second opinion—from identifying the doctor to making sure the logistics are completed to make the visit the most effective use of everyone’s time.

“Great advice! A simple and clear guide for patients to turn to when faced with a difficult diagnosis. Betty skillfully encapsulates the key points to utilizing a second opinion to its fullest—-picking up where most doctors leave off.”
Amy Clouse
MD, Attending Family Medicine Physician and Associate Director of Family Medicine Residency Program
Abington Memorial Hospital, Abington PA

“Even though I am a nurse myself, I benefited greatly by getting a second opinion when I was making decisions about knee replacement surgery. The seven steps listed in this book were very helpful. I was struggling with the decision to have one knee done at a time or do both knees at the same time. I also wanted to make sure I selected the best possible surgeon to meet my needs. I went to one surgeon who only wanted to do one knee at a time despite the fact both knees were equally bad. When I went to the second surgeon for another opinion I was accompanied by a nurse advocate from Guardian Nurses and it made all the difference. It helped to have someone else listening to what was being said and then help me make the decision. I went with bilateral knee replacement and I am certain that I made the right decision with the help of my nurse advocate.”
Karen K. Kirby
RN, MSN, NEA-BC, FACHE President & CEO
Kirby Bates & Associates, Bala Cynwyd, PA

“Obtaining a second medical opinion made a significant difference more than once in my life. In one situation, a second opinion recommended a more practical rehabilitative path for recovery, and had I obtained the second opinion earlier, I may have made decisions about my care that would have significantly decreased my treatment and recovery time. In a compassionate and thoughtful way, this book provides the incentive and the tools needed to get that second source of advice.”
Harrie Samaras
Esq., Founder of the ADR & Law Office of Harrie Samaras

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