A Need for Nurse-Patient Advocacy?
As a physician or doctor, you’re likely to see numerous patients each day, all with their own wants, needs, and conditions. Meeting with each person brings a unique set of diagnoses and recommendations, after which you both go on your own ways. Although the treatment you may have suggested is based on the best of your knowledge, certain patients can have reservations about proceeding with your orders.
This wouldn’t be such an issue except for the fact that most people don’t feel comfortable bringing up their disagreements, leading to a range of potential risks and dangers.
Past studies have revealed that only one in seven patients is willing to voice their opinion or disagree with a treatment plan. The majority of participants of this study stated that they felt uncomfortable speaking up out of fear of being seen as a problematic patient or respect for the doctor. This makes it evident that nurse-patient advocacy is a vital need for many healthcare facilities nationwide.
Risks Beyond The Diagnosis
This breakdown of communication between patients and doctors goes beyond general social discomfort considering the safety concerns associated with this dysfunction. Instead of voicing their opinions and asking to consider other options, it may be more likely that a patient won’t fill a prescription, get a certain test, or make the recommended appointments – all leading to further health risks.
When doctors are unaware that a patient is not following through with the orders, or even that they were uncomfortable in the first place, people are more likely to perpetuate their conditions and become sicker in the long run. This may ultimately cost more time and money for everyone involved.
Advocating for Patients
In order to mitigate the risks associated with this communication breakdown, nurses can step up to advocate for patients, helping them to express their concerns without fear of judgment or repercussions.
Because nurses are versed in the language of the medical community, they are aware of the immediate and long-term questions to ask patients, as well as any treatments which may be recommended to avoid a lawsuit. Nurses can also provide patients with other available treatments that they may not have been aware of. This way people don’t have to feel as though they are offending doctors by questioning their authority on the matter.
Although patients can approach these concerns or disagreements on their own, having the support of a trained medical professional will only improve the system overall.
The original study found that the tendency to avoid questioning doctors and their recommendations wasn’t specific to any age, race, education level, or income status – basically, most of the population is uneasy when it comes to defying modern medicine. Furthermore, certain conditions like mental disorders or other perception altering illnesses can make it difficult for patients to effectively make their own decisions in the first place. This makes it vital to establish effective communication, serving to help patients retain their voices when it comes to expressing their concerns.
Overall, you can incorporate patient advocacy into your facilities by focusing on engaging with the individual beyond their conditions. Learning to read the subtleties of human body language and always remembering to ask whether they have any concerns or questions is key.