When you or a loved one face a complicated health problem, you put your trust in the medical system to quickly and accurately diagnose and treat your condition. What choice do you really have? You may face limits based on where you live in South Florida, your insurance coverage or which doctors in your area who are accepting new patients. On the other hand, there are many things you can do to advocate for yourself or your loved one throughout the process. Here are a few tips for self-advocacy:
The more information, the better
When talking to the doctor, don’t hold back. Too many people feel anxious and unsure of themselves, so they keep quiet. Don’t assume a piece of information is too minor to matter. Let the doctor decide. Every little bit of info can help give the doctor a more complete picture. In addition, repeat yourself to your care team throughout the process regarding important facts, like a drug allergy.
Educate yourself about your condition and your medicines
A complicated condition can get, well, complicated. You may want to keep a journal to jot down important information. Also, track your medication. You need to know the actual names and the amounts you take. Many doctors will periodically go over this information. Medication mistakes are all too common and can be serious.
Bring a second set of eyes and ears
Dealing with a serious diagnosis is scary. Ask a friend or family member to come with you to appointments. When you feel emotionally overwhelmed, this person can listen to important facts and directions from the doctor and ask questions you may not think of. There are also people who do this professionally or as a volunteer.
You have a right to ask questions
When you meet a new doctor, you have the right to know who they are and ask questions about their qualifications. You can and should ask questions about your treatment options, cost and the pros and cons of different medications or other therapies. When you face a serious illness or injury, consider seeking a second opinion.
These are just a few of the many ways you can look out for your or a loved one’s best interest during a difficult time. Being an advocate does not mean you are trying to be adversarial or looking for a fight. It simply empowers you to better understand the process and make the best choices for you. Everyone deserves the best healthcare available.