Why Patient Advocacy? | RN Patient Advocates

Why Patient Advocacy?

October 28, 2015

So why the big surge in the field of patient advocacy? We all know that the medical/industrial complex is dysfunctional and based on profit and disease management rather than wellness and prevention. But I have a question for those of you who are considering this as a career move: what is the context of this surge at this time? Are things getting better or worse?

Let’s look at some of the data: according to the Harvard endorsed (Dr. Lucien Leape) study published by Dr. John James in 2014, up to 440,000 deaths a year occur as a result of preventable medical error – and that is just in the hospitalized population. The larger community setting would undoubtedly expand that number, but there are no consistent tracking mechanisms. That makes medical errors the third leading cause of death in the US!

Consider also the recently published study by the Institute of Medicine re: the egregious rate of misdiagnoses in the US annually. That number? 12 million. That’s right: 12 million. Why do you think this is happening? What are the roots of the problem? How can we as RNs address and help to ameliorate this condition? Then there is the problem of both polypharmacy and deaths and injury due to Adverse Drug Events (ADE’s). 106,000 deaths annually. Interesting to note that through the sciences spawned by the Human Genome Project, the field of pharmagogenomics is so overlooked by mainstream medicine. This science has the potential to greatly reduce that number and make pharmacological choices by physicians much more accurate and less marketing based.

These are just a few of the conditions that have necessitated the emergence of the RN Patient Advocate role. We as RNs have tremendous potential to effectively create solutions to these problems. Thinking about your next career move? You might want to consider RN Patient Advocacy. Karen Mercereau, RN, iRNPA