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A patient advocate is someone who can look out for the best interests of a patient as well as help the patient navigate through the healthcare system. They are there to support and act as a spokesperson of the patient and their family. It is good to find an advocate that you trust and who is willing to act on your behalf, working with your healthcare team.
They should be willing to question doctors and nurses about your diagnosis, treatment, medications - not just when something doesn't seem right but to double check.
Patient advocates can come in many forms. A patient advocate can be someone in your family, a friend or a professional. Hospitals have professionals on deck that act as patient advocates, usually called Patient Representatives or Patient Advocates. Sometimes social workers and private nurses can play this role as well.
Here are some tips for working with a patient advocate from National Patient Safety Foundation:
- Select a person you can communicate with and trust. This person should be assertive with good communication skills.
- Think about what you need help with and what you will handle on your own.
- Think about if you are going to want this person to accompany you to tests, appointments, treatments and procedures. If you do want this, make sure your doctors will allow.
- Make sure you are clear on what you want your advocate to be involved with. Whether it be treatment decisions, test results or keeping track of your medications.
- You advocate will have to be the spokesperson for the rest of your family and it is important that your family is aware of this and agree.
- All contact information of your advocate is given to all of your treating doctors, hospitals, and anyone else who will need it in case of an emergency.
It is very important that your patient advocate is someone that you can trust because they are supposed to be looking out for your best interests and act as your spokesperson.
Most of all, they need to stand up for you! The job of any patient advocate is to keep you safe in the hospital.
If you have more questions about where to find a patient advocate in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, feel free to contact us at (202) 393-3320 or send us an email at [email protected].