August 28, 2012

Your Advocacy Connection

By Deb Toal
GolderCare Solutions

Offering Comprehensive Long Term Care Solutions and Patient Advocacy

As I write this article, it has been a couple of weeks since GolderCare Solutions led an interactive Patient Advocacy Coaching Forum for the general public commemorating World Patient Safety Day. You may wonder why GolderCare believes there is a need to discuss patient advocacy and patient safety. Research indicates that one in three patients in this country is harmed by preventable medical mistakes, and that preventable medical mistakes are a leading cause of death and disability. Each day in the United States, we lose the equivalent of a jet-full of passengers going down to preventable medical mistakes. After reviewing the statistics, we felt compelled to shed some light on these issues in the quest to change these statistics one patient at a time.

It is GolderCare’s goal to help patients, their family members and advocates learn the necessary skills to work together as an effective team with their respective healthcare providers to avoid preventable medical mistakes. This forum provided an excellent platform to help achieve this goal by defining patient advocacy; providing strategies on how to access care; discussing the importance of preparing for medical appointments; providing safety tips in acute care settings and finally, when to enlist the support of a professional advocate.

Most preventable medical mistakes involve medication errors, procedural errors, or exposure resulting in infections. Good communication is key to preventing medical mistakes. In a healthcare system, whether a doctor’s office or hospital, you may not always be able to advocate for yourself. Your condition may inhibit you from communicating as you normally would. You just may be overwhelmed and not think to ask and listen to all the very relevant information. Often this is when a patient advocate can step in and facilitate the communication process.

Naming someone as your medical power of attorney is important; however, equally important is giving significant consideration to who you want as your patient advocate during a hospitalization or when dealing with health issues. The advocate’s job is to listen, watch, clarify and communicate.

Patient advocacy is something that we don’t usually think about until you find yourself in some sort of a healthcare crisis, overwhelmed and powerless. Because of this, GolderCare Solutions is pleased to be hosting a bi-monthly Interactive Coaching Discussion at the GolderCare Office at 4101 John Deere Road in Moline. The first Interactive Coaching Discussion will be held on Thursday, September 20 from 3 to 4 p.m. and is open to the public. Seating is limited so RSVPs are required. If you are interested in attending, please contact Beth at (309) 764-2273 (CARE) or email These interactive small group discussions will focus on your individual advocacy needs.

Dialogue will include the role of the patient advocate and how to access the care you or your loved one needs. Since this is a small group setting, topics will be specific to the interest of attendees on any given date.

We hope you will join us to learn more about being an effective patient advocate and share discussion on how to work together as a team with healthcare providers whether you are the patient, a family member or the patient’s advocate. Let’s pursue the journey of preventing medical mistakes – one patient at a time.

Deb Toal is a Care Advocate at GolderCare Solutions Unlimited. She is an RN with Certifications in Geriatrics and in Dementia Assessment Care & Management. Deb loves the fact that at GolderCare, the Solutions truly are Unlimited.