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5 Ways Nurses Can Advocate for Patients

David Johnson

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5 Ways Nurses Can Advocate for Patients

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

A nurse is someone who cares about people. They wish to represent those who are unable to speak for themselves. Nurses are an important part of any patient’s care, and they are frequently involved when a patient’s human rights are infringed.

There is an emotional aspect to nursing. Not just because they can get attached to sick patients, but because the patients rely on them so much. In a lot of ways, patients are like babies, needing to be spoon-fed both their meals and treatment information. Here are five ways that nurses can become advocates for their patients.

By Giving Them Security

A fundamental difference between nurses and doctors is that nurses are responsible for ensuring their safety inside the hospital at all times. Doctors diagnose and treat patients, but nurses look after them and do crucial daily chores to keep them healthy and happy. The safety of patients extends to their post-hospital care. This could include alerting family members and caseworkers on what to do once the patient has been discharged.

Elderly individuals and those who have just had surgery, in particular, may forget or be unable to take their prescription appropriately. Nurses must tell everyone engaged in the patient’s care on the details of managing the patient’s health outside of the hospital. This is also required to avoid readmission rates back into the hospital because they failed to take the proper medication at the correct time.

Creating Resource Connections

Healthcare can be expensive and if a patient isn’t able to afford treatment, the nurses will know of other resources to suggest. Perhaps the patient needs a full-time caregiver but cannot pay for the service. Most nurses know of different charity organizations or people willing to assist financially. In many ways, nurses are also supporting networks by helping patients connect with the right people. Some may even offer transportation services or get the community involved, but most often nurses also provide patients with a great deal of emotional assistance.

A patient may be unaware that they are eligible to participate in free services or clinical trials. Nurses will have this information on hand and may even aggressively seek out individuals who require financial assistance. Several organizations want to assist sick people, yet most patients are unaware that they exist. Nurses are deeply committed to their communities and have a large network of people who can assist them.

Recommending Policy Change

A policy called Shared Governance allows nurses to be more involved in a patient’s medical care. This can be a significant benefit for patients with complex cases who require someone personally involved and familiar with all of their specifics. Nurses are excellent advocates in this regard because they can mobilize other organizations to effect policy change.

The nursing influence on health care policy extends to the whole community. Nurses can encourage change by pleading with policymakers to make changes for the patient’s benefit. They are also excellent public educators, enlightening people about basic healthcare practices and teaching younger nurses with the future in mind.

Support Their Autonomy

A nurse’s job is to look after a patient and make medical decisions, but the patient must always be given the first option. Each patient has the freedom to decline medication and surgery, and a nurse cannot refuse a second opinion. Even if the prescribed medication saves a patient’s life, their autonomy to make those choices must be respected. The distinction is that the nurse must intervene and advocate for a patient who is no longer able to help themselves or whose decision-making process has deteriorated.

In other cases, a nurse can act as the patient’s voice when they are unable to speak for themselves. This could be due to their family’s over-involvement in attempting to deal with the situation, or a hospital’s refusal to comply with their wishes. Nurses are often the only advocates some patients will ever have, even if they disagree with them.

Assisting with Various Personal Issues

Nurses are frequently the first professionals people call when they have a healthcare problem since they work with the patient’s best interests in mind. In some circumstances, it is in the patient’s best interest to avoid spending thousands of dollars on a treatment plan that could be handled more easily. Perhaps the patient will be unable to afford healthy meals as a result of spending money on medicine. In the long run, their health may suffer more as a result of their bad diet than the original health problem.

There will be times when a patient requires that costly medication to stay alive. It is frequently the nurse’s responsibility to discuss these personal matters with the patient. Nurses are also available to offer emotional support if they are not being taken care of emotionally as a result of a difficult diagnosis.

Looking Out for the Small Things

Medical care is a difficult career, which is why becoming a doctor requires several years of study and practical expertise. Doctors are not immune to making mistakes. It’s in our nature. Nurses who are present at a patient’s bedside every hour, monitoring every drip, medication, and operation, may notice minor errors. If a patient has a complicated medical history or fails to mention a prescription they are taking, a doctor may be unaware that the new treatment would have side effects.

At all times, nurses must maintain a high degree of concentration. To maintain excellent patient care, they must take enough breaks and not work long shifts. A nurse may detect if a patient is too embarrassed to acknowledge that they don’t comprehend something. Their treatment will need to be thoroughly discussed with them so that they are aware of all aspects of their care.

A patient could be a young child who has recently been through a traumatic event. Moving them to a different area might be healthier for their physical health, but it would be detrimental to their mental health. When no one else will speak out for a patient, a nurse must know how to handle these situations.

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