The Medical Advocate can be a friend or relative with a medical background (nurse, doctor, patient advocate, home health aide, or lay patient navigator*) who makes themselves available to the patient to clarify medical terms, answer medical questions, and/or help with medical research about the patient’s specific condition, treatment options or clinical trials.
NOTE: Medical Advocate role is envisioned as an informal patient/family support role, rather than the legal distinction known as Power of Attorney for Healthcare. The patient needs to tell their Medical Advocate the name of the person who holds his/her Healthcare Power of Attorney, or what close friend, primary caregiver he/she would like to name for that role. (See Power of Attorney form below.)
* What is a Lay Patient Navigator? People who have themselves been through the same medical disease and/or treatments as you often can help you navigate your local community’s support systems for people with your disease, and/or answer questions about symptoms, for example "chemo brain," that you might not consider. Some medical centers have trained Patient Navigators who are on staff to fill this role for families. Ask!
MEDICAL ADVOCATE TASKS:
- Makes themselves available as the patient or family’s medical consultant at every stage of care. Initially, might simply provide clarity around medical terminology, e.g. after diagnostic tests. Later, will help the patient generate questions to ask about recommended treatment options, so s/he can make powerful, informed decisions.
- Accompanies the patient (if asked) to major medical procedures, or remains available to support the patient and/or family when interacting with hospital and medical staff during any hospital stay, especially if the patient is unable to respond (for example during a hospital-induced coma.)
- Assists the patient/caregiver in compiling a patient’s at-home recovery notebook, to be available for use by drop-in caregivers (if needed), listing patient’s medicine and dosage schedule, emergency contacts (including relatives, doctors, etc.), Medical Power of Attorney forms (if available), etc.