Patient Advocates to protect you from your healthcare system
It is amazing to me that modern healthcare has gotten to the point where there is a general perception that we need to pay people to protect us from our doctors and other healthcare institutions.
Most surveys of patient satisfaction, contrary to popular belief, actually show that patients usually like their doctors and feel confident in their care. It's the nature of the parameters that they work under that makes people feel the need for protection.
For example, the article in the Boston Globe that Kevin linked talks about hiring private nurses to attend to patients while they're in the hospital. This is undoubtedly because of the very real concerns patients and families have about medical errors. Unfortunately, and I'm sure most patients are unaware of this, there have been a number of tragic cases of poor care that arose because of inattentive, poorly screened or incompetent private nurses whose presence gave the hospital's nursing staff a false sense of security and fostered less dilligent care.
The article was amusing on one level in that it described the work of one advocate, a Dr. Gwendolyn Stritter, who runs a telephone-based advocacy practice. She's an anesthesiologist who decided to "branch out" into clinical advocacy. She charges $300 for an initial two-hour visit, reviews cancer patients' medical records and finds the latest treatments for them:
"She reviews their medical records, combs six to eight online physician databases to find the latest research, then talks to the researchers who've done the studies. She also attends major cancer conferences with her patients in mind."Maybe it's just me, but if the patient's own oncologist isn't doing the legwork himself (and with the benefit of a subspecialist's added experience), that patient needs a lot more than a "patient advocate"...how about a new doctor (or at least a second opinion)?