Tuesday, September 6, 2011
A Nurse or an Advocate?
Is a Nurse an Advocate?
Working with a small group of nurses who would soon become patient’s advocates was an eye opening experience. For years nurses have called themselves the patient’s advocate, but in actuality, they are the patient’s nurse. They may offer medical care, information, comfort and advice but that’s what a nurse does. An advocate is the person who makes sure all that happens – correctly and in a timely manner. I learned, at this recent training session that many nurses have been taught at a very early age to be respectful of the doctor. When in the hospital, some nurses won’t speak up to the doctor when something doesn’t seem right. This confirms why I have heard many times over the years that nurses are the ones who tell the family when a patient died or was injured because of the care received.
Nurses will always say that they are the patient’s advocate. And, in many ways that’s true. But the nurse can’t possibly stay at the patient’s bedside or pay attention to only one patient as an actual advocate will do. Nurses are often shuffling the responsibility of more than one patient, sometimes as many as ten, and that itself is a good opportunity for an error.
If you can bring an advocate, better that they are trained, but they should have only one patient and should be an extension of your care and be able to stand up to any doctor on your behalf.