The single most important thing to remember when faced with a health crisis is that you need to be an active part of your healthcare team.
Your healthcare decisions need to be made with you not for you! You can do this by educating yourself about your illness and your treatment options. When you are an active member of your healthcare team, your results will improve.
One excellent site to begin to understand the illness you have is www.nih.gov (National Institute of Health). That site will also link to others equally helpful.
Remember that no one treatment is right for everyone. We are all different with unique needs, belief structures, cultures and spiritual values.
Patients and Your Families: Choose Your Patient Advocate Wisely!
- Is your patient advocate an experienced clinical RN who has completed a clinically based, University backed education program teaching the full range of Patient Advocate services?
- Will your patient advocate research all of your treatment options - including within the Integrative Medicine Model and the Functional Medicine Chronic Care Model?
- Does the range of services offered you include clinical advocacy, health education and access to all components and paradigms of the healthcare system?
- Will your patient advocate ensure the completeness and integrity of your diagnostic work-up?
- Will your patient advocate ensure that you are consulting with the right specialty doctors?
- Will your patient advocate build the most effective therapeutic team, including Integrative and Functional Medicine modalities as appropriate to enhance your recovery?
- Will your patient advocate utilize your full medical history, creating and communicating this comprehensive medical chronology to all your health providers to minimize your risk of death and disability due to medical errors?
- Will your patient advocate teach you and your family how to be a powerful and effective health advocate on your own behalf.
Important factors to consider about being a healthcare advocate for yourself:
Curiosity can save your life! Use the same spirit of inquiry to seek out medical care that you use to shop for a car or a vacuum! Investigate, ask questions. Always seek a second opinion. Any qualified professional will welcome your researching. You are very important to many people. Do your research carefully and choose wisely.
Remember that every human being is fallible, including healthcare providers. Do a background search on the hospital as well as the physicians you choose. *Contact your state’s Board of Medicine/Medical Examiners for physician information (www.fsmb.org/directory_smb.html).
You can compare hospital quality ratings at www.ConsumerHealthRatings.com as well as at www.HealthGrades.com. Both are independent sites. If possible, choose a hospital that specializes in care of your particular condition.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), a federal regulatory body governing all healthcare institutions which accept federal funds, along with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched a national campaign to help patients advocate for themselves and prevent medical errors: The Speak Up Initiative
The Speak Up program encourages people to:
1. Speak up if your have questions or concerns. If you still don’t understand, ask again, it’s your body and you have a right to know.
2. Pay attention to the care you get. Always make sure you’re getting the right treatments and medicines by the correct healthcare professionals. Don’t assume anything.
3. Educate yourself about your illness. Learn about the medical tests you get. Learn your treatment options and ask about your treatment plan.
4. Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your Advocate (advisor or supporter).
5. Know what medicines you take and why you take them. Medication errors are the most common healthcare mistakes. (A wonderful resource to learn about your meds is www.rxlist.com. Learn this site and tell others)
6. Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center or other healthcare institution that has met federal guidelines. Ask about their Joint Commission rating on their quality standards.
7. Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the healthcare team!
Remember, it is your right to refuse treatment until you understand what is happening.
Watch for the simple things: all healthcare workers must wash hands before working with you. Stethoscopes should be washed as well.
Ask your nurse to identify all medications before you take them.
Have your doctor clearly mark the site of your upcoming surgery. This is really important as mistakes are made everyday.
When your healthcare issue or illness is too complex, the system too confusing, call an independent RN Patient Advocate to help you through. We can protect your rights and safety, educate you and advocate on your behalf with all your medical providers. We wish you the best of health and will assist you in any way we can in your healthcare journey.
Be safe….ask questions!