How Far Should You Take Patient Advocacy
I once had a CT Scan at Mink Radiology with an iodine IV. When we reached the “Insert IV now” portion of the procedure, while inserting the needle into my vein, something was wrong, it didn’t feel right. I told the technician that he needed to remove the needle immediately and choose a different vein. He didn’t listen to me. I exclaimed that I knew my veins better than he did. Again, he ignored me. I turned my head and saw a river of blood dripping from my veins and staining the floor. I also noticed that he wasn’t — wait for it — wearing sterile gloves.
Sit with that for a moment.
His excuse for not using gloves, “This is a new IV and I’m not used to it yet”. Appalling. Disgraceful. Unacceptable. He should never have been given permission to oversee that procedure until he knew how to do it WHILE using sterile gloves. He put us both at risk. My health should never be at risk due to negligence. To say that I was livid is an understatement. There is no part of that experience that is tolerable. He should have been suspended until he learned how to do this procedure correctly. Shame on Mink Radiology for allowing this practice to begin with.
The question I pose today is how far should we take our patient advocacy? Should it begin and end with doctors? In my opinion, it never stops and it begins with every medical transaction, be it an assistant, phlebotomist or technician, and everything in between.
Advocating for ourselves isn’t about making waves or excuses to behave badly. Rather, it’s business. And an opportunity to assert our self-worth in a professional manner. Our health is paramount to our survival. How we are treated matters. If someone isn’t listening, make them listen. If a non-emotional, professional exchange isn’t working, perhaps it’s time to walk away. While we might be afraid to walk away, maybe we should. There is nothing wrong with saying, “This relationship or this procedure isn’t working for me. Thank you for your time. Good-bye”.
For example, when I was speaking with one of my doctor’s medical assistant’s. Before I could state what I needed or wanted, she interrupted and said, “I know. I know. I know. We do a thousand of these procedures.” Before she could hang up, I diplomatically stated, “You don’t have ESP, you can’t know what’s going on inside my head. I need to ask my question and I need you to hear me. Do you think you can do that?”. Of course, before hanging up on me, she was irate evidenced by her silence. I didn’t care. I asked my question. She answered. While hanging up on me, I thanked her for hearing me.
What a shame, when people’s egos get in the way of our medical care. Still. We press on. We fight for ourselves. We are worth fighting for. Even if we ruffle a few feathers along the way, good for us. We’ve put our needs first. In my opinion, be professional, be diplomatic and be assertive. This is a business relationship. We are paying for a service. If we hired a carpet cleaner and the carpets weren’t cleaned to our satisfaction, would we speak up or let it go? We’d likely speak up.
Circling back to the story that was the impetus for this post, I emailed the CEO of Mink Radiology. I called all of my doctors. I made sure that they were informed and that I didn’t need to undergo any immediate blood work.
The more we speak up, the more we take care of ourselves. In addition, we pay it forward, so to speak. Our speaking up ensures that patients that come after us might have a better experience.
What are your thoughts?
Tags: advocate for yourself, assert your self-worth, Do not use Mink Radiology, How far should you take patient advocacy, learning how to advocate for yourself, negligence at Mink Radiology, patient advocacy in all areas of medical negotiations