Paralegal Urges Patients to Get Involved in Medical Care

It’s always great when Paralegals are in the news, especially when they are helping make other’s lives better.

With over 20 years of experience as a medical paralegal, Monmouth Junction, NJ paralegal Corine Mogenis saw numerous malpractice cases come through her law firm.  She was bothered by the large number cases where what the patient went through could have been prevented had they known they had options.

“We would see this theme over and over, that a lot of the injury-related cases could’ve been avoided if people were aware of their rights,” Mogenis said. “People need to know the importance of getting second opinions, how to get their medical records and what to do if diagnosed with a major illness. Most people are not aware of these things and that there’s an easy way to do it.”

Mogenis teamed up with Patricia Raya, a legal nurse consultant, to collaborate on a book to help patients learn about options available to them and to help inspire people to get involved with their medical care.
The book “Medical Tips from the Inside..Things You Need to Know!” was published in 2008 and has since been awarded with the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award, which honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services.
The book seeks to prepare the public to better respond to catastrophic medical situations and urges people to take charge of their medical care.
Mogenis said the book explains why information about the quality of health care is important, how people can gather information about their physicians and other medical providers, and how to analyze individual health care situations and needs.

“I think that most people to this day still don’t realize they can participate in their health care as much as they should,” Mogenis said. “Most people just go in and listen to their doctor, who they picked from a list without doing the research to find out about that doctor. What complaints they’ve had against them, what school they went to, what are their specialties, instead of just randomly picking a doctor. Medical care is a team effort, you can’t just sit back and answer yes and no to life or death questions.”

Mogenis said that asking questions and participating in the process is something many people are hesitant to do, yet many doctors actually prefer when patients get involved in their treatment.

“People need to know what tests to ask for, the pros and cons of surgery, what the alternatives to medications are,” she said. “People would be surprised how welcoming doctors are to these questions. It’s better than walking in, randomly getting information and then walking out the door and blaming the doctor for not helping them more.”

For the last two years, the duo also has had a show on Princeton TV called “Medical Tips You Need to Know!”, a 30-minute talk show that covers topics and concerns regarding health care and includes guests such as doctors, nutritionists, attorneys, chiropractors and patients.

“Our main goal is that if if we can get one person to pay attention and get involved, maybe that can save a life or prevent a misdiagnosis,” Mogenis said. “We want people to think about some of the things they can do to help prevent mistakes so we don’t see them in a law office with a problem we can’t fix.”

Raya also started a non-profit group called the “Peppermints & Ginger Comfort Kits.” The charity collects money to put together kits that provide comfort and relief to chemotherapy patients in New Jersey and New York.
The kit includes peppermint and ginger teas, a soft bristle toothbrush, alcohol free mouthwash and toothpaste, warm socks, bag balm and a relaxation CD. Mogenis said the kits are designed to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy, reduce stress, and offer the patient some relaxation.

“It’s just some things to help with some of the side effects to make the treatment go a bit smoother,” she said.

Ultimately, Mogenis and Raya hope that by engaging the community in an open discussion about their medical treatment, people will find themselves the best care available to them.

“Sometimes people take for granted that they need to get involved with their treatment,” Mogenis said. “Not questioning doctors is something that was written in stone from years ago, but times have changed. There are bad doctors just like there are great doctors. People need to make sure they pay attention and do the research to get what’s right for them, otherwise they have to take responsibility for the outcome.”

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