Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines an advocate as “one that pleads the cause of another,” or “one that supports or promotes the interest of another” (2014). Bu and Jezewski expanded on this by developing a mid-range theory of patient advocacy to implement into nursing (2007). They describe a patient as being “vulnerable and powerless” when stricken with illness and without knowledge of health care systems (Bu & Jezewski, 2007). The goal of the theory was to give the patient a voice in circumstances where they weren’t able to speak up for themselves and to maintain the patient’s integrity (Bu & Jezewski, 2007). They found three core attributes to what would make up a patient advocate; those attributes were to: protect and guard the patient’s autonomy, act on behalf of the patient, and to actively seek policy changes on behalf of the patient or communities (Bu & Jezewski, 2007).
A person’s autonomy is about being an individual and making one’s own decisions about their life (Entwistle, Carter, Cribb, McCaffery, 2010). A health care provider is expected to foster autonomy by regarding the patient’s health and respecting the patient’s capability of making their own informed health care decisions (Bu & Jezewski, 2007). L. Schwartz mentions a case where parents of conjoined twins were denied their wishes when the twins’ doctor pushed for court mandated separation of the twins and won (2002). This instance brings up a debatable issue of conflict between parents and health care providers in who should make decisions on behalf of children (Schwartz, 2002).
Often times it is common for health care providers to “offer” or “allow” a patient certain choic...
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...e patient and make sure that the patient’s wishes are upheld in the manner that they had wanted, such as to not resuscitate or to make sure their spiritual leader is present when passing (Austin, 2006).
Being an advocate for the patient is a responsibility that the nurse owes to the patient (Bu & Jezewski). Based on these attributes of protecting the patient’s autonomy, acting on behalf of the patient, and seeking social justice for the patient, nurses are able to give full scope care to the patient (Schwartz, 2002). Everyone deserves to be treated well and kept comfortable, especially when it comes to their health, and having someone to advocate for them in times of vulnerability will do just that. As programs to promote patient advocacy develop in institutions, it can be inferred that quality of care and overall patient satisfaction should improve.
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