Maine Issue: Do You Have a Patient Advocate?

What Is a Patient Advocate-And Why Do I Need One in Maine?
A serious car accident, or being diagnosed with cancer, is like your whole life is under assault. Or maybe your baby was just born- severely premature. Or maybe your parent is needs to go into a nursing home- right now. All of a sudden your head is swimming with information-all of it new-and all of it coming at a time when you’re trying to keep your head above water with your home responsibilities on top of everything else. Different doctors saying different things. Nurses coming in and out of the room with medications you’ve never heard of before. Insurance companies talking co-pays.

 And you’re worried. You’ve heard about medical malpractice, and nursing home neglect, even here in Maine. And it strikes you that the nursing home or hospital’s “Patient Advocate” is being paid by the company or hospital. How, unbiased is she going to be? Who do you or your family turn to? A good place to start is the Reader’s Digest Article “7 Times You Should Hire a Patient Advocate (and When It’s Unnecessary).” What would be most important to you if you suddenly found yourself overwhelmed in a local Maine healthcare setting? Help with insurance forms? Someone to look at your medical records and stand by you when you question your doctor about next steps? Think of it this way: Isn’t having help with healthcare decisions as important as having a mechanic friend come with you when you buy a used car?