Monday, May 22, 2006

Hiring a health advocate for yourself


…If you've been in the hospital, you know the feeling. People are putting stuff directly into your bloodstream.

...If you are lying there, half drugged up, how can you tell what the heck is pouring into you?

…Hope that nurse got it right. Can’t read it from here.

…At least out here in Arizona, HA has noticed doctors taking your picture when you come in so they can refresh their memories about who you are—and some of them don’t
even check back after they have sent you to the hospital to see how you are.

...And don't even get HA started on hospitalists, those supposed specialists who oversee your hospital care. She has war stories!

…HA used to think of doctors as your personal advocate with a stake in your getting better. Maybe some are, but not all.

…A story in the LA Times on May 15, 2006, talked about the importance of having an advocate in the medical setting. On one level, this means a person to come to important doctor appointments and take notes.

….On a deeper level, this may mean hiring your own private duty nurse to sit with you in the hospital or a privately hired physician to oversee your care.

…HA once sought out a managed care consultant, a doctor, to tell her what tests to demand for a problem.

…According to the LA Times story, Sarah Lawrence College offers a master’s degree in patient advocacy. The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a Center for Patient Partnerships. The University of North Carolina, apparently, is not far behind.

…Hospitals say they have people who are patient advocates on staff. HA, at least, has found these people less than helpful, though she never called one while confined. Maybe next time. As far as she can see, they pass copies of the complaint letters around and then tell the complaining patients they can't tell them what happened as a result.

…Other advocates work via telephone, researching trials and treatments.

…When you’re sick, miserable, scared and feeling alone, chucking out some bucks for backup can be appealing.

...But you don't want the hospital staff and your advocate to start tussling over your bed.

1 comment:

Star said...

John McCormack, a patient safety advocate in Mass, whose own daughter died of a medical error, is campaigning for a law in Mass to limit the number of patients per registered nurse. According to HealthGrades, 82,000 patients a year die as a result of preventable error, and the leading cause is poor RN staffing.

In 2005, McCormack was successful in getting Taylor's Law passed in Mass, which allows patients or their families to bring a victim's impact statement to the medical boards examing doctors' actions. Such proceedings are behind closed doors in most if not all states besides Mass. McCormack is trying to change that, too. Check out www.memorial2taylor.com.