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.
If a patient is under the belief they are in need of assistance resolving a major issue, one avenue is to place a complaint with the appropriate authority. Complaints can be made to various agencies but here are two major institutions that may assist a patient with their concerns. The first is Alberta Health Services – Patient Relations Department. Complaints can be filed through their Patient Feedback Form that is available on-line. As well, they can be contacted at 1-855-550-2555. The website is www.albertahealthservices.ca/patientfeedback.asp The second agency is the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. Complaints made to this agency are when a patient has an issue with a specific physician. You can contact the College Patient Advocate by calling 1-800-661-4689 or go to their website which outlines their complaint process. The website is www.cpsa.ab. Please keep in mind, these avenues are in place to help Alberta patients, so only use them when absolutely necessary and always be respectful.