Let’s face it. You have a lot on your plate. You have a job, you manage the house, you chase after the kids, you make sure the dog has all its shots and you are probably at least checking in after an elderly parent if not caring for one. And this is just the beginning of what you do. And chances are when you take your kids to the doctor or accompany your parent to the doctor you are right there making sure your loved one is treated with vigilance. You ask questions and leave no stone unturned. You are an ADVOCATE for your loved one. But what happens when you get sick and go to the doctor or an urgent care? Who is there advocating for you? Chances are no one is. The doctor or PA walks in and asks “how are you?” and you say “great” because you have a habit of saying you are great. You then proceed to downplay what’s wrong with you and the entire office visit becomes an exercise in “hope for the best” rather than ruling out the worst. The bottom line is we stink at being our own advocate unless we have been through a life threatening illness and have learned our lesson.
So what can we do about it? First we need to acknowledge that we NEED to advocate for ourselves. We also need to acknowledge that sometimes WE need an advocate. This is because we have seen all too often that mistakes in medicine occur because something or someone has fallen through the cracks. Having an advocate is like having backup.
In this series we show you the importance of being your own advocate when it comes to your health and the many ways you can prevent common medical errors from happening to you. Each week we will show you different ways you can take charge of your healthcare.
Why should you take charge?
Medical errors are considered the third leading cause of death in the United States. The American Association for Justice estimates that 440,000 errors resulting in death occur each year. We’ve learned a thing or 2 after handling medical malpractice cases for more than 30 years. We’ve learned that while medicine is complex, errors often can be prevented in simple, common sense ways. When you take charge of your own medical information you can actually decrease the odds it will happen to you.
So take an active role in your healthcare and remember, bring someone along to the doctor as YOUR advocate. There is nothing to lose by having backup, but everything to gain- a healthy you!