A new study released by Johns Hopkins University revealed that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Heart disease is the leading cause of death, and cancer is the second. So there is good reason to believe that are our well-being is at risk when we are in a medical setting.
Learning how to advocate for ourselves and others is important. However, how do we do it when we feel so vulnerable just wearing a paper gown?
Here are 10 ways to become your own patient advocate:
1) Manage the appointment with an agenda.
Before you go to your visit, write down three or four items that you want covered. This may be a particular issue, like your lab results, or it might be questions.
If possible, print out two copies. When the doctor walks in the room, hand over your list. This will make it clear that you need certain items addressed. Write down the responses on your copy.
2) Ask others for opinions.
Through the internet, many health groups can be found such as forums who have members with similar health conditions. You can elicit feedback from many of these groups. Keep in mind that your condition may be different than what others describe, even though they may sound similar.
While this platform may not be monitored by a doctor, often patients and their family member have good suggestions for how to treat a condition. You can then ask your doctor for feedback about what you have learned.
3) Research your condition.
While the internet may be filled with inaccurate information, there are valuable websites, like Mayo Clinic for example, that contain a wealth of data. By researching something online, you can read about the standards of care, symptoms, typical treatment options and prognosis.
Use this knowledge to better inform yourself about proper treatment. Again, keep in mind that your situation may not be the same as the one you read about.