Advocating for patients means you are keeping their best interest in mind. As nurses, we have a duty to protect their information, rights, dignity, and act as a voice for them when they aren’t able to speak up or advocate for themselves. Having the courage to say something when certain aspects of care are missed or the best interest of the patient is overlooked is another role nurse’s play in patient advocacy. Patients may need you to speak up for them regarding family members who may not have the patient’s best interest in mind as well. “Advocates become facilitators when patients and family members need to discuss uncomfortable information or explore its implications. Nurses may sometimes need to advocate for patients against their families” (Gerber, 2018).
Patient safety is a huge goal for advocating for patients. For example, if a doctor makes a mistake and prescribes a certain drug dose that doesn’t seem right for that patient, it is important to question that and verify it with the provider, even though you may feel uncomfortable doing it. The patient’s safety and health are at risk and it is up to us to be the final check for those circumstances.
A situation I can recall occurred during one of my clinical rotations. A patient I was assigned to with my nurse was homeless and spent a few days on the med/surg unit recovering from pneumonia. The patient was sheduled to be discharged and both myself and the nurse didn’t feel right about the situation. The patient had no where to go and was still recovering. We wanted to make sure the patient could transfer herself from her wheelchair to the bathroom so she didn’t soil herself and contacted a social worker to help find a place for her to go. Once she had a place set up, we bathed her before leaving and made sure she was able to transfer herself before discharging her. If she didn’t have an advocate, she could have not recovered and healed appropriately in addition to being at risk for falling and harming herself. This would have resulted in a worse condition than she came in to begin with. It was a wonderful learning experience to witness.
Gerber, L. (2018). Understanding the nurse’s role as a patient advocate. Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/nursing/Fulltext/2018/04000/Understanding_the_nurse_s_role_as_a_patient.15.aspx