Chapter 4: Tips from Physicians for Bedside Advocate

  1. Realize that the primary relationship is between the physician and the patient, not physician and advocate.

  2. Put the patient in the center of attention. Some advocates will subconsciously put their own wishes over that of the patient’s, especially at the end of life.

  3. The best advocates try their best not to express their grief as anger and aggression.

  4. Open a positive relationship and dialogue with the doctors, including asking the right questions that may sometimes be uncomfortable.

  5. Know the wishes of the patient, have an updated healthcare power of attorney, and help to keep priorities aligned if the patient cannot speak for himself or herself.

To get the most out of your conversation with physicians, ask 1 or 2 open-ended questions:

First and foremost, when doctors come into the hospital room, give them a few minutes to get their bearings and assess the patient situation. After they’ve had a chance to digest, then ask your questions.

  • How are things going for my loved one today?
  • What is the plan from here?
  • What happens if…?
  • Doctor, I don’t know what to ask. If you were in my situation right now, what would you do?