For many of you who have followed my journey, you know that I chose to seek my healthcare outside of the U.S. I felt my experience was less than stellar, and after speaking with so many others and hearing their stories, it helped me finalize my decision.
I am a veteran, and many of my medical records are in the Veterans Affairs medical system. To maintain access to them, I must stay active in that healthcare system. I can also apply for other benefits through this system, but they require me to establish a relationship with one of their primary care providers.
On a recent trip back to the States, doctors ran a battery of tests that led to some new information. I returned to get the follow-up results and found myself in the hospital. During my stay, I was reminded of why I decided to leave this system in the first place.
However, I did not want to fill this column with tons of negativity from all that occurred during the visit. Instead, I decided to share some tips on advocating for yourself. I hope the following information will be helpful.
- Have your questions answered thoroughly before allowing treatments.
- Take someone with you if you think your decision-making will be impaired by pain or intimidation.
- Don’t allow providers to manipulate your decisions by using insults or by playing on your emotions.
- Don’t be afraid to complain to your on-site patient care advocacy department.
- If the advocacy department is unavailable or unhelpful, go up the ladder to hospital administrators.
- Complain to the state medical board if you don’t obtain the desired results at the hospital level.
- Make sure not to complain with personal attacks. Stick to the point of the issue, your originally requested solution, and how you would like to see the issue resolved if your initial solution was ignored.
I hope the information I share here is helpful to someone. Our medical professionals are part of our team. They do not get to be the final decision-makers. They are best-suited to listen to what we have to say and offer real information that allows us to make decisions we feel truly will be the best for our bodies. We must respect them, but they, too, must respect us. If they don’t, a protocol exists to ensure we feel represented and have choices.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.