The health care system can be overwhelming, intimidating and difficult to navigate. In order to receive the best health care possible, self-advocacy is an important and necessary quality to master. All patients have a right to feel confident and comfortable in the care that they are receiving. One of the most important qualities in self-advocacy is persistence. If you do not feel that you have been given the proper treatment, you have a right to speak up and express your feelings. It is important to be persistent without being disrespectful, aggressive or demeaning. Respectful persistence will pay off!
Patient issues within the health system can vary widely such as an inability to access a family physician, lack of accessibility to specialists, a misdiagnosis, a botched surgery, a person being undiagnosed and even death.
Below are some tips that may help a patient advocate for themselves.
Sometimes, events can cause a patient to question the care they have been given. However, before you embark on a trail of complaints and legalities, an important step can be missed. Obtaining your health records. Acquiring a copy of your health records can be important in understanding many medical incidents or just bring clarity to a situation. There are a variety of avenues one can use in order to get a copy of their medical file. First, a patient can contact the Health Information/Records Management department of almost any hospital. You can request a copy of your health record through these services. A complete list with contact information can be found at www.albertahealthservices.ca and search “health records”. There is a list of the hospitals that provide health record services. The second avenue to obtain your medical file is through your family physician. Speak to you doctor concerning your desire to obtain your file, and they will be able to assist you. And yes, a copy of your medical file has fees. Usually, the fees are associated to the length of the file. So each patient will be charged according to the number of documents in their file. However, it is well worth the cost and can be vital in getting the answers patients may need.