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Hospitals: How To Avoid Infection & Medical Error

Have A Patient Advocate With You As Much Of The Time As You Can

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A patient advocate is generally a family member or friend who helps you in a medical setting such as an appointment with a doctor or while in a hospital.  Patient advocates can be an important member of the team that helps post diagnosis. A patient advocate can:

  • Help monitor your care. This can be particularly important if you cannot or are just not up to monitoring your care at a given time. 
  • Help prevent infection by checking to see that everyone follows disinfection procedures before touching you.
  • Take notes about medications, treatments, and doctors who visit. This can be particularly important when it comes time to review the hospital bill. Hospital bills are known to often contain mistakes - and the mistakes are seldom in a patient's favor. (To learn more, click here.)
  • Complain for you if you are unable to or don't feel like it. 
  • Look out for new symptoms that you may develop. 
  • Keep control of your visitors when what you most are in need of is rest.  
  • Share information about you with other people.  
  • Can help take care of your personal needs.

To learn more about patient advocates, including who to choose, click here.

Be sure to let your doctors know that they can talk freely with your advocate about your condition.  If staff says they cannot talk to the person because of legal privacy concerns, ask for a HIPAA form. HIPAA is the law that governs medical privacy. A HIPAA form gives the hospital and staff permission to speak with the person or people you choose. 

NOTE: The Family Caregiver Alliance provides practical information and support for caregivers ( offsite link

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