Tips to Advocate for Your Health

As a patient, you can’t depend solely on your healthcare providers to take care of your health—you need to take action to protect yourself. The more proactive you are, the more likely it is that you will get the kind of care you deserve. Here are some tips for effectively advocating for your health.

Pay attention to your surroundings.
When you’re a patient, it’s easy to be passive as you assume that the care you are receiving is correct. It’s important, however, to stay alert and focused on everything that is going on. When you encounter a new person who is providing care for you, check their ID badge. Make sure you know whether the provider is a doctor, RN, LPN, nurse practioner, physician’s assistant or a medical resident.

Don’t be afraid to speak up.
The most important thing you can do to advocate for yourself is to speak up on your own behalf. If you don’t understand something, ask that it be explained to you. Make sure that you understand any treatments, therapies, or medicines that are being given to you. If you suspect that you are being confused with a different patient, don’t hesitate to say something. Make sure that if you are receiving medicine or a prescription, that it is the correct medication for you. Ask what it is for and why you are getting it. There have been cases where IV medications were given to the patient in the next bed by mistake.

Participate in the decision-making process.
Remember that you have a say in your own healthcare. Talk to your physician about every major aspect of your medical care, and seek out a second opinion when necessary. If you’re getting a new medicine, make sure you get detailed instructions for its use, and ask about side effects. If surgery is suggested, ask about alternatives and do get a second opinion if possible. Do find out about all risks associated with the surgery. The more pertinent information you have, the better equipped you will be to make the right decisions for your well-being.

If you are concerned about a misdiagnosis or possible medical error, contact the law firm of

Pegalis & Erickson, LLC, in New York. For 45 years, we have advocated for people of all ages,

in order to help our clients financially and make healthcare safer for everyone. You can reach us today by calling (516) 858-2194.

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