The stories you recount here resonate strongly with me and, I'm sure, many other readers too. Even though it's 2011, many people still either regard health-care providers (esp physicians) as absolute authorities whom it would be unseemly to question, or the overall veil of medical mystery just appears too hopelessly impenetrable (esp when we're stressed out by an emergency episode).

I can imagine this topic of, generally speaking, multi-dimensional "patient empowerment" (theories and tactics) would make a good focus for a special issue.