March 30, 2023, Kitchener, Ontario
Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer
We all see the doctor in our lives. Sometimes it's a routine visit for annual tests and other times we are thrown into the healthcare system with serious acute illness like heart attack, or as a result of injuries from a car accident.
As a patient, it's important to know how to be an effective self-advocate in a healthcare setting. This means taking an active role in your own care and making sure that you're being heard and understood by your healthcare providers.
Know Your Rights
The first step in being an effective self-advocate is to know your rights. This includes your right to informed consent, your right to refuse treatment, and your right to access your medical records. Take some time to research these rights and make sure you understand them fully. If you're unsure about anything, don't hesitate to ask your healthcare provider for clarification.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Before you attend any healthcare appointment or procedure, take some time to prepare ahead of time. This might include making a list of questions you want to ask your healthcare provider, or writing down any concerns or symptoms you've been experiencing,. This will help you feel more organized and confident during your appointment, and ensure that you don't forget anything important.
Effective communication is key to being an effective self-advocate in healthcare. Make sure you're clear and concise when describing your symptoms or concerns, and don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for clarification if you don't understand something your healthcare provider says. It's also important to be honest and open with your healthcare provider about any concerns or fears you might have, as this can help them provide better care for you.
Being assertive doesn't mean being aggressive or confrontational. It simply means standing up for yourself and making sure that your needs and concerns are being heard and addressed. If you feel like your healthcare provider isn't taking your concerns seriously or isn't addressing your needs, don't be afraid to speak up and assert yourself. Be kind, respectful and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Bring a Support Person
If you're feeling nervous or overwhelmed about attending a healthcare appointment or procedure, consider bringing a support person with you. This might be a family member, friend, or even a trained patient advocate. Having someone there to support you and help you communicate your needs can be incredibly helpful. It is also very helpful to have someone who is paying attention to everything that is being said. Educate Yourself
Take some time to educate yourself about your condition or illness, as well as any treatments or medications you might be receiving. This can help you feel more informed and confident in your healthcare decisions, and can also help you ask more informed questions of your healthcare providers.
Keeping records of your medical history, including previous diagnoses, treatments, and procedures, can be helpful when advocating for yourself in a healthcare setting. This can help you and your healthcare provider better understand your medical history and can aid in developing a personalized treatment plan. Additionally, keeping a record of any questions or concerns you have during appointments can help you stay organized and ensure that all of your concerns are addressed.
If your visits result from accident injury then both the doctor’s notes and your own notes can be crucial evidence in any insurance or personal injury claim.
After your appointment, it's important to follow up with your healthcare provider as needed. This may include scheduling follow-up appointments, requesting additional information or clarification, or reporting any side effects or concerns you may experience. It's important to stay engaged in your healthcare and to continue advocating for your needs throughout your treatment.
Being a self-advocate in a healthcare setting involves taking an active role in managing your own healthcare. By coming prepared, being clear about your concerns and preferences, asking questions, getting a second opinion, keeping records, and following up as needed, you can ensure that you are receiving the best possible care for your needs. Remember, you are the expert on your own body and health, and by advocating for yourself, you can take control of your healthcare journey.