what it takes to be an effective patient advocate ii

A previous post explored how those who are asked to serve as a primary patient advocate — or “wingman” — for a loved one who has to undergo a major surgical procedure or stay in the hospital for an extended period must always exercise the most extreme vigilance.

That’s because their loved ones are likely too preoccupied with either their illness or their recovery to successfully navigate the many potential pitfalls of the health care system.

In today’s post, we’ll continue to explore what a patient’s wingman can do to help ensure that their loved one emerges safely from a prolonged hospital stay.

Take the time to gather and coordinate patient information: Experts indicate that patient wingmen should realize that their duties do not end upon completion of the surgical procedure or once the hospitalization is a few days from ending. Rather, they indicate that patient wingmen should always have the necessary patient information (medical records, etc.) ready to go so that hospital staff can have instant access during the entire hospital stay. Furthermore, they advise patient wingmen to research their loved one’s condition, such that they can make detailed inquiries to ensure that treatment has proceeded as planned.

Help the loved one process the paperwork: As mentioned earlier, a loved one confined to the hospital will understandably have quite a bit on their mind, and might be reluctant to take the time to read and sign otherwise important paperwork. Here, experts advise patient wingmen to be proactive, securing this type of documentation sooner than later and working through it page-by-page with their loved one. This simple step can help ensure that everything proceeds as planned, while still affording loved ones the time needed to prepare themselves for the road ahead.

Monitor hygiene: As discussed on our blog, unsanitary conditions or inadequate hand sterilization practices can create an elevated — and unacceptable — risk of a patient contracting a dangerous hospital-acquired infection. Accordingly, experts task patient wingmen with making sure medical professionals take the necessary precautions and even monitoring their loved one for potential signs of infection.

From infections to surgical errors, it’s imperative to remember that medical professionals can and should be held legally accountable for negligent actions that result in harm to patients.

Source: Yahoo! News, “How to be a good patient wingman,” Lisa Esposito, July 24, 2014

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