Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When they Don't Want to Hear Your Opinion

The Advocates Role

There are many different kinds of patient advocates. There are those who will keep a patient comfortable. There are those who will review medical records and help with billing, or help with placement and rides to and from appointments and there are those, like myself who are patient safety advocates and concentrate on the patient’s safety. It is often difficult to try to explain to the general public the difference.

I find much of my work is on the phone. I do go to the patient’s bedside to meet with the family on occasion, but when it’s not absolutely necessary I can just get in the way.

A family recently asked me to visit them, and their parent who was being treated at a Long Island hospital. I knew there was tension between one adult child and the attending physician. I interviewed the nurse before meeting with the family and she told me about some of the family heartache and confusion. I knew I would be working on communication issues mostly. The nurse asked me what my role was and what was I going to do.

I told her “I am going to repeat everything that you and the doctor say - but I am not representing the hospital”. In this case, the family does not want to hear how sick the patient is. They want to know what is going to be done to help the patient come home. Medical professionals often know that with a disease, infection or damage to certain parts of the body, patients won’t get better. This family wouldn’t hear any of it. As their advocate, it is important to listen to them, hear their needs and keep others opinions, including my own, out of it.

No comments: