Starting off as a Patient’s Advocate / Hiring a New Patient Advocate

The information below offers some suggestions how a person starting off as a patient advocate (or in a position to assist a family of a hospitalized patient when the family members can’t be available) can get started.  This checklist can help an advocate lend support to a family by being present for a patient in the hospital following surgery or a procedure.

For the Family

Advocate should have in writing and know:

  • The person’s name and phone number to contact with any questions or updates. If a health care proxy form is available, be sure the advocate has it.
  • Expected medications (names, times and doses).
  • Name of doctor in charge.
  • Planned services such as physical therapy, x-ray, CAT scan or wound care.
  • Any allergies, diet restrictions or expected outcomes such as nausea, dizziness or fall risk.

What you want the advocate to do:

  • Call with updates: times and phone # or text.
  • Ask staff to wash before touching the patient.
  • Wipe down surfaces with sanitizer.
  • Question who enters the room and get name and reason (business card for doctors or other visitors).
  • Be sure staff ask the patient’s name and birth date.
  • Question all medications, names on medication and doses. Compare to list.
  • Keep a list of questions with the patient.
  • Take notes when the doctor or nurse treats patient.

Advocate should:

  • Have appropriate family contact / health care proxy.
  • Introduce yourself to staff.
  • Be sure a notebook is available near patient.
  • Give privacy (leave the room) when patient is bathing / toileting / dressing,
  • Bring a book to read or something else to do quietly.
  • Bring cash for parking and change for vending machines, or a light snack and drink for yourself.