Clinical Question of the Week #6

“To defend patients today, RN advocacy almost always requires some sort of public calling out of those in power.”  (Suzanne Gordon, When Chicken Soup Isn’t Enough, 2010). The world of health care in 2010 requires nurses to be a strong and public spokesperson for our patients.  We can’t simply think about advocating for our patients–we actually have to do it!  Do we deserve the title of patient advocate?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Clinical Question of the Week #6

  1. Alnan

    Absolutely we are patient advocates.

  2. DiBasio

    Not so much. When advocating for a patient or group of patients put in harms way by policy, orders, or unsafe practices in the unit, I am threatened by management, written up, and told to “just follow the orders” by co-workers – and I really do pick my battles so that I can back up my decisions based on patient safety or outcomes.

    Nurses are treated so badly, and there is such a shortage of jobs (and none are any better than the next, really), that the majority of nurses with whom I work just “do their job” – which they do not see as advocating. Many feel they need to please management and the prescribers first, and hope the patient doesn’t want/need anything different that would muddy the waters.

    When patients themselves express concerns about questionable orders for care, treatments, meds, tests, etc., most of the nurses will tell the patients to “ask your doctor”.

    This is despicable. But I understand why they do this, because they need the job. And anyone who advocates for their patients, even one time, is in big trouble and will be written up, harrassed, threatened, and ultimately, fired.

    I’m in a unique position, because I truly don’t need the money, but am just working contingent while finishing grad school.

    So no, while I myself practice patient advocacy, and fellow nurses at work often come to me and ask me to advocate because they can’t afford to lose their job (and I can), nurses are not patient advocates.
    I believe the system is set up so that nurses CANNOT truly advocate. Or, while sometimes possible, advocating is difficult and the nurses will be treated like traitors and bad employees.

  3. Bette

    I think we advocate for those traditional things like patient side care issues that we know are of immediate importance. I think where we fall down is when we step away from the patient side. It is habitual that we forget that to be comprehensive advocates that we can’t “leave it work” or go home as if there is nothing else to do. We forget or maybe need to do a better job of teaching and being accountable for all that the advocacy includes: advocating for safe, innovative working conditions that attract and retain quality clinicians at the patient side and work to enact laws that protect our workers, patient and community health needs.

  4. ali

    Being a pediatric nurse… i think we are some of the best advocates for our patients because most of them can neither talk or are deemed “not capable” of being able to make their own medical decisions even if they are fully aware of their situation (such as teenagers or older adolescents) We advocate for those who we feel can be a part of their decision making and advocate for those who are not able to.We advocate for the families who have no idea what is going on, and for those who have no way to turn.

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