UNDERSTANDING PATIENT ADVOCACY
by Maia Signore
Patient rights and advocacy is described as catering to a patient's unmet needs which includes, informing, protecting, and speaking on behalf of patients, this is to ensure that patient rights are protected. There are three core values regarding patient advocacy which are safeguarding patient autonomy, acting on behalf of patients, and promoting social justice in healthcare. Now patient advocacy radiates both positive and negative effects if correct, or not correct, measures are taken. Positive patient advocacy includes increased professional satisfaction, self confidence and self esteem, as well as maintenance of their personal integrity and moral principles. Negative consequences might include loss of reputation, friends, and self esteem but can also lead to moral stress or dilemma. Physicians and staff have been let go of their jobs because of wrongdoing regarding patient rights and advocacy.
What does a patient advocate do?
Advocates are not only important for bettering communication but also for patients' mental and emotional health. A lot of the time, all patients may need is someone to be there for them and listen to them. A huge part of patient advocacy is patients having someone to explain their medical information to them as well as explain the effects and treatment options to them. Sometimes patients understand what the physician is telling them but they do not know what that entails or are not told in detail what a condition or medication is completely. Additionally, if a patient is unsure of what to do pertaining to their medical treatment, a patient advocate may explain their options, importantly noting that they are only explaining the facts NOT sharing their opinion.
While every patient should have an advocate, only 70% of people do. A health advocate could be a relative, nurse, caregiver, or spouse. It is more prominent in older adults to have a health advocate and/or they are more likely to benefit from having one for medical visits and medication prescribed. This is because they are shown to have more complex and frequent medical needs.
The role of advocacy is extremely important in healthcare because it is key in order to build strong health systems. Patient advocacy should be implemented in all healthcare institutions because it reduces the communication gap between patients and their healthcare,