3 important steps to being a health care advocate for yourself.
Communication is key. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and talk honestly about your concerns, and discuss every option with your doctors.
1. Be prepared for your doctor’s visit
Before an appointment with your doctor, have a list of questions and concerns written out beforehand. The time you will have with your doctor will be limited. You need to make sure you tell the doctors and nurses your major concerns up front. When you are asked how you are feeling, you need to be completely honest. Your doctor won’t know how to help you if you don’t tell them what’s wrong.
2. View nurses and doctors as though they are working for you because they are.
Doctors and nurses are there to make you better. That is their job. This does not mean you can be disrespectful and/or order people around. You need to treat them respectfully, but know when to be firm about your care, if you need to be. Start viewing yourself as part of your health care team. You are in charge of your own health and the doctors and nurses are there help you get better.
3. Have someone you trust to advocate for you if you can’t do it yourself.
It is helpful to have a trusted family member or friend to be part of your health care team. Discuss all of your health concerns with your advocate as well, so they know what’s going on. A lot of the times when you are not feeling well it’s hard to think up questions or even care about what is going on around you. It is important to have someone who can speak for you and help you make good decisions when you are not feeling well, especially if you’re in the hospital. It is wise to have your advocate(s) spend the night in the hospital with you. It is helpful to have someone there in case you become confused or need help getting to the bathroom. Many hospitals have restrictive visiting hours so you should ask if they can make an exception for you. It is also helpful to have your advocate there as a support. Having someone there to talk through things with can be one of the best things you can do for yourself. No one should ever be sick and suffering alone.