Imagine – you suffer chest pains and are swept off to the ER. The pain meds leave you too groggy to make good decisions. Who will help you?
Or – difficult symptoms result in a diagnosis that leaves you stunned. You leave the doctor’s office remembering very little of what you’ve been told. Now you aren’t even sure what to do next.
Or – you’ve begun to find it confusing to keep track of all your medications. You’re concerned you’ll make a mistake. Which ones are you supposed to take with food? Or on an empty stomach? What about having that glass of wine at dinner – will it affect the medicines you are taking?
Next week you’ll be admitted to the hospital for knee surgery. You have friends who have acquired infections from surgeries – one even died. You can’t advocate for yourself when you’re drugged and in pain… who will sit by your bedside to keep you safe?
Your loved ones live too far away to be much help. Sometimes you just need a ride to an appointment, or someone to run to the pharmacy to pick up your prescription.
These are just a few of many scenarios that require us to find some assistance to be sure we get the best care and stay safe. Whether you have a debilitating disease, a new diagnosis, or you just feel so lousy that you can’t think straight – it’s time to call in a patient advocate to help you.
New patient advocates often find themselves having to explain what they can do to help a patient that a patient or caregiver can’t handle him or herself. Depending on the circumstances, having a patient advocate by your side can actually make – or break – your ability to heal, or even just cope.
Can you think of other scenarios that require a professional private patient advocate? Why not share them in the comments!
2 thoughts on “Why Can’t Patients Be Their Own Advocates?”
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Here’s a story that will highlight the premise that patients should not self-advocate (any more than they should self-medicate): An elderly oncology patient was having an MRI. The technician assured the patient that he would remain nearby and that if at any time he had a comment or question, he would be heard. During the MRI, the patient experienced searing pain on his chest and abdomen. Unfortunately, the technician had stepped out. Consequently, the patient tried to escape the capsule himself. By now, his skin was literally smoking. When the technician saw him, he scolded the patient for moving. But the patient, unable to talk because of his pain, finally escaped the capsule. It turned out that EKG electrode discs were still attached to his body and caused third-degree burns.
Let this also be a warning to advocates: Check your patient’s body before an MRI, especially if they have just had an EKG. The elderly man was unaware of the consequences of having electrodes still attached to his skin during an MRI and did not think to question the technician about it.