3 Things to Know about a Patient Advocate

Ill Father Making A Last WillMany of our readers have questions about how to handle problems when they or their loved one is in the hospital. One of the things I always recommend is to contact the hospital’s patient advocate.

Most hospitals and healthcare facilities have a patient advocate that can often help you deal with the complexity of a hospital stay. Whether you are having trouble getting to talk to the doctor or you need a “team” meeting with all of your doctors to understand how the healthcare team is working together to get you better, a patient advocate can help.

Here are 3 things you should know:

  1. Patient advocates have many different names: They can be called Ombudsman, Care Advocates, Health Planners, Coordinators or Navigators.
  2. Different advocates specialize in different areas: Some advocates help you get insurance. Some help you figure out your hospital bills. Some advocates will sit with you and doctor to help you talk to the doctor about your care. Some will help you determine the best place for you to go when you leave the hospital. When you talk to a patient advocate, find out what they can do to help you. If they are not the right person, they will help you get to someone who can help with your particular problem.
  3. You must be your own patient advocate: You should never assume that the hospital will take care of everything. Hospitals have many patients and many healthcare specialists. If you are not getting the care you think you need, you must speak up. By asking the nurse or the doctor to speak with the hospital’s patient advocate, you will often be taking one of the best steps toward solving your healthcare problems.

Have you ever used a patient advocate? What tips do you have? I’d love to hear from you!

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