Money For Lunch – Rethinking Patient Advocacy

Rethinking Patient Advocacy

July 12, 2017 1:04 PM0 commentsViews: 12

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When you or a loved one enters a hospital, it is expected that the professionals within will take care of everything. Unfortunately, those nurses and doctors are as fallible as any other person who is doing their job. It would not be unexpected for another professional to make a mistake nor would it be frowned upon to question those who seem to be faltering elsewhere. Yet, when interacting with medical professionals, people often feel as though they should blindly accept whatever they are told. It is important the people become their own health advocates when they are sick in order to limit errors that could prove life threatening.

Medication Errors

Medication errors can be deadly. There are many points throughout the supply chain that can breakdown and cause a patient to receive the wrong medication. A doctor could prescribe the wrong type of medication or the wrong dose. Alternatively, they may write the correct prescription but the person who fills it may read it wrong or make an error during the process of retrieving it from the stock room. Sometimes nurses can mix up who is supposed to get what medication. It depends on where the patient is receiving their medication and the circumstances surrounding them.

However, if you are the one taking the medication you do have a way to find out if what you were told you would be taking is the same as what you have been given. An online pill identifier will make it easy to instantly know if the pill you have been given is the same as the one which was prescribed. A visual database lets patients see the color and shape of different medications as well as any words, numbers, or symbols inscribed on them.

Keep Medical Records

People often move from one location to another, change doctors over time, or have multiple doctors for various conditions. Add to that any emergency room visits or appointments with specialists and you can quickly find yourself with medical records spread out over dozens of locations. Because of this, it is important for patients to keep an accurate set of medical records for themselves.

This can be as simple as a binder that is filled with office summaries for each visit or a filing cabinet with records broken down by year. However, with the many cloud storage options now available it may make more sense for people to begin digitizing these records. Many free applications and cloud storage services allow documents to be scanned or photographed and uploaded where they can then be tagged or filed electronically. This option makes it less cumbersome to keep records with you and gives new healthcare providers easy access to pertinent records.

Ask Questions

Recent studies have indicated medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Healthcare professionals are overworked and are performing tasks that could mean the difference between life and death with far too little sleep. It isn’t disrespectful to ask questions and it isn’t pushy to demand to have them answered fully before consenting to treatment, dismissal, or medication. If you are not completely clear on the reason for a decision, the expected outcome, and the possible risks then there is no reason for you to give your consent to proceed.

If a healthcare professional is unwilling or unable to answer questions about what they are doing, it is likely they didn’t have the time or energy to properly come to a conclusion. However, that does not mean it is necessary to ask for a thesis on each decision. Be sure you understand what is going on and that it makes sense based on your medical history. Regardless of their training and education, you know your personal history and your body better than they do. You are an expert on yourself and by asking questions you will maintain that expertise.

Sometimes no matter how actively a person attempts to advocate for themselves something will go wrong. If that happens it may be necessary to seek that advice of a medical malpractice expert. If you have been advocating for yourself throughout the ordeal, you will have the information they will need to most effectively continue advocating on your behalf.


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