Nobody can underestimate the power of being an informed patient. At EmpowHer.com, we encourage patients – especially women to ‘speak’, to research and to take questions and ideas to their doctors, so we can make informed decisions about our most valuable asset – our health.
And, we think women can be advocates for other women as well. Let’s face it, sometimes we’re not feeling up to it and it’s great to have someone else champion our cause.
But not all advocacy programs are being seen in a bright light.
Take for example the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness program, which was created in 1986. The intentions seem great – to curb the neglect and abuse of the mentally ill – mostly those in institutions.
The program funds protection-and-advocacy agencies in all 50 states and represents about 19,000 people according to some docs from 2006.
But now this agency is at the center of a firestorm after a 24-year-old schizophrenic allegedly killed his mother with a hatchet after he was released from treatment.
What happened? Despite doctors’ recommendations, the patient was let go, with the help of advocates who championed his release and his right to refuse treatment.
Now, some doctors, hospital administrators and mental-health veterans argue advocates are “endangering the mentally ill and the public by too often fighting for patients' right to refuse treatment.” (Source: WSJ.com)
What do you think? Do you think these types of advocates should have medical backgrounds or do you think that’s just another voice in a resounding chorus? What weight should a family member have in making such decisions? Who would you rather rely upon? A doctor, an advocate or a family member? (Of course, none of the relationships are mutually exclusive.)
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