What is a Personal Patient Advocate?

“A time of illness is a stressful time for patients as well as for their families. The best-laid plans can go awry, judgment is impaired, and, put simply; you are not at your best when you are sick. Patients need someone who can look out for their best interests and help navigate the confusing healthcare system – in other words, an advocate.”  ~ National Patient Safety Foundation.

      • Did your mother call the other day to say she is ‘sick’? You ask her questions and she has no clue, she just cries on the telephone. What do you do now? You are working, have kids and are not able to be there for the next month or so to help.
      • You go to the doctor and he says ‘get your affairs in order’. Do you know what that means? Why is that important and what will your life be like going forward?
      • A sudden call from your physician and he says, be sure to come in right when he opens tomorrow, he has to speak with you about your tests. You are there promptly at opening time and after his first three words; you remember nothing about what he said and leave the office speechless.
      • At the end of your doctor’s visit, the physician says you need more testing and the front office gives you a laundry list of papers to sort out and make appointments. Do you know what the tests are, what prep has to be done, should you have someone with you, and if they are really necessary, potentially, you may have had them done just recently with another specialist and they are not communicating doctors?
      • Do you believe that all you need is your insurance card, a good regular primary care doctor and they will know everything about you no matter where you go for treatment? Now that everything, or so it seems, is on the computer, do you believe there is a random database in the sky that has everything on a second command to pop up for instant life challenging times?
      • Your parents are elderly and they insist on taking care of themselves until the day they die in their home at a very old age. Do they know all the legal and medical papers to have intact prior to being unable or not allowed to make their healthcare decisions? Do you know there is a time when you may not be able to make decisions and once you cross that line, there is usually no coming back for decision making in emergencies or day to day care.
      • As a single parent, are you aware if you need medical services, you must have someone designated to take care of your children or they may potentially have to go to social services if you are hospitalized? Divorced or single, who is there for you to make important medical decisions should you not be able to? Do you have the legal forms in place and have you updated them for your life circumstances?

All of these instances are very important to know about and prepare, not because you live in fear, but because it is much better to have some things in place rather than waiting until an event and you have no recourse. Emergency room physicians will tell you this every day, when a major crisis occurs, there is no time to try to find people, learn more about the current problem and make life altering decisions. If you can’t make them, the healthcare people will make them for you.

Step up, learn about your health and that of your family, find out what is going on with each other and document what needs to be done in the process of life going forward. Fear will take the place of a bad decision, learn how to understand and make the best decision.  To learn more about Dr. Jeanette’s services, check Support Plans for Challenging Health Issues and schedule your ‘Let’s Talk’ session today.