A Day in the Life of a Patient Advocate

by Advocation Services Partners

It’s 5:45 a.m. and my cell phone is already ringing. This can’t be good. And, in fact, it isn’t. Grace’s husband, Jim, is calling to let me know that Grace’s nephrostomy tube has come loose and Grace is in great pain. I suggest he call the ambulance and have the ambulance get her to Pretty Good Hospital. “But Not So Good Hospital is closer,” Jim replies.

“Jim, Not So Good Hospital has provided her with absolutely awful care. While Grace may be in pain, if this is not a critical situation, let’s get her some better care. I’ll meet you in Emergency at Pretty Good Hospital.” Grace and Jim agree and off they go.

Two hours later the attending has completed his workup and says the head of ER, Dr. Don’t Question Me, would be with us shortly.

Dr. to Grace and Jim: “Nothing we can do here. We weren’t the ones who inserted the tube so you need to go back to that hospital. I’m setting you up for discharge immediately.”

Patient Advocate to Dr: “Excuse me! I think that would be a huge mistake. You have acknowledged there is a medical problem here and you need to take care of it. ”

Silence. Nobody speaks. Dr. Don’t Question Me looks a bit shocked, regroups, and snippily replies that someone would be back shortly to take Grace to radiology to re-insert the nephrostomy tube.

Tube reinserted. Crisis averted. We’re left only with questions about what would have happened had I not been present. Grace and Jim confirm they would not have argued with the Dr. They would have returned to Not So Good Hospital. We’ve now renamed Pretty Good Hospital to Not So Good Hospital II.

Current task: Find some Really Good Hospital for future issues.

Moral of the story: Make sure you’ve got a Really Good Hospital and a really good advocate!

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