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After my last post, I received a comment from a health care professional who (full disclosure) has also acted as a life coach of sorts for me for some years now. “I was left thinking and feeling,” he wrote, ” ‘what would humane inpatient psychiatric care look like particularly with the projected increase [in care with the Affordable Care Act]?”

It occurred to me that the idea of ‘ Camera As Advocate’  isn’t just a one-off post, but  a jumping off point for a series. What would have to happen for there to be no need for cameras as surveillance? There are a number of things to consider, which I’ll talk about in coming posts. The issues of quality of and compensation for staff;  accountability and transparency; inpatient medical vs. inpatient psychiatric; environment/appearance of facilities; continuity of care; the problem of objectification; insurance; who gets treatment and who doesn’t.

This might seem obvious but the most basic factor in humane care is to see the human being often buried under a diagnosis or worse, a merry-go-round of diagnoses and misdiagnoses. It’s depressingly common. I know from my own experience that once I was diagnosed (and misdiagnosed repeatedly) I vanished as a person. Poof!  Through the Looking Glass I went. The excavation of my personal history took a back seat at the rear of the bus  to my being a set of symptoms to be treated. When I finally got a copy of my medical records, there were at least 6 diagnoses from different staff members and doctors who were involved in some way in my treatment. They didn’t consult each other, clearly. They couldn’t make up their minds. They had no idea what they were doing. I was stunned, still am, by the almost casualness, the willingness to just essentially trash my life.

Patients need a voice. They need to be heard. They should be allowed, to the greatest extent possible, to be involved in their treatment plans, to be included in meetings with the staff, have ongoing access to their records, a more open treatment plan that has flexibility if staff has the guts to admit they were wrong or simply don’t know what’s going on. I was appalled at what doctors wrote in my records. But there was no way to change them, no recourse. What they wrote was considered reliable and the truth. I was rendered mute. Patients cannot just be allowed to disappear. That’s a start.