My Experience as a Blind Medical Patient
By Bob Branco
June 13, 2023
We often hear from a percentage of blind people that the medical care they receive is questionable. Their concerns vary, whether these people are in hospitals or doctors’ offices. I hear these concerns on chat lines, podcasts, and during individual conversations. I believe what I hear. For one thing, I trust my friends when they tell me things, and furthermore, I am not with them when they receive medical care.
With that said, I must tell you that I have received very adequate medical care as a blind patient. As I get older, I spend more time in a medical facility, so I am able to evaluate things more than ever. The doctors, nurses, technicians and radiologists describe everything they’re going to do, and why they’re doing it. If they don’t explain things clearly, I ask them to explain more clearly. They are very good about directing me to where I need to go, how to position myself and when to help with any medical process I am going through.
Last week during a doctor visit, he told me that I needed to go for blood work when the visit was over. This is normal. We leave the examining room and go to the laboratory for blood work. However, the doctor offered me another option. Instead of me going to the laboratory for blood work, he offered to send the lab technician into the examining room. I did not ask for this. He offered it. Sure enough. The lab technician came into the examining room with her equipment and took my blood.
I want to reassure everyone that I am not making light of any concerns that blind people have about their medical care. I take these concerns very seriously. This is why I was on a committee in 2018 to draft two patient advocacy letters for patients to bring to doctors’ offices in order to help the staff understand the needs of the blind. You can find these letters on my web site, www.brancoevents.com. Just click on the patient advocacy letter section. Currently, these letters are being studied by a second committee in case there is room for improvement.
I wanted to share my story with you just to point out that even though some blind people have problems with their medical care, I do not. Perhaps it’s good luck, or maybe I am fortunate to have very compassionate and understanding medical people taking care of me. However, I am not going to over-think this. I am just glad that I have the proper care and the understanding that goes with it, and hope that those who are having problems are able to advocate for better results.