Patient Advocate Ninja

Patient Advocate Ninja

Quick quiz…after you get a truly great doctor and fantastic medical coverage, what one thing do you still need to insure your safety in a hospital? Think about it. Are you going in for a hip replacement, new elbow or knee? Likely you’ll be knocked out and have a few hours in recovery. If it is a big deal you may be staying a few nights in the hospital and maybe up to a week in a rehabilitation facility. Give up? You’re going to need a Patient Advocate Ninja. car ninja

Think of Mr. ‘T’ in scrubs. Start lining up a full blown body guard with nursing background and a touch of Sherlock Holmes. Maybe your third grade teacher will do (mine could stop a clock). Bottom line, you’re going to need someone to fight for your rights, guard your stuff and check your meds while you are drifting off to La-la-land. Maybe the next time I get sick I will simply hire the cast of the Chippendale dancers and check into the Biltmore Hotel. It will be cheaper, Latest foodie story better service and with a much improved disposition of staff.

I have ‘graduated’ from every new age, self-help, religious and motivational program ever invented (yes, ‘sucker’ is written on my forehead). Tony, Jack, Werner, Brian, Napoleon, and Norman; I love you guys. Yet NONE of it prepared me for what lay ahead lurking in the hallways of our great healing institutions after Visiting Hours. I was, it seems, an educated, well-rounded, lightly basted renaissance sitting duck.

I was paralyzed from the waist down in 30 minutes by a rare neuro-immune disease. The shock of losing use of my legs was NOTHNG compared to the shock of losing my dignity, and darn near my life, by bumbling staff who apparently never took Economics 101. You know, the part where the patient’s payment pays your salary. Ergo: a) don’t treat the patient with disdain and b) don’t kill them off or they will stop paying your wages.

From first hand reports I hear, very few hospital are prepared for the patient load. Maybe the bean counters decided one nurse could actually care for 10 or more patients at a time. But speaking as one of those it’s a bad idea. I was given drugs improperly bringing on shock. I was asked repeatedly to get up and use the commode. Read the chart Art, if I could walk I’d get up and leave.

This from an article on the American Association of Critical Care Nurses ( The ANA, which worked closely with Sen. Inouye’s office on the bill, lobbied for this legislation (nurse-patient ratio laws) to protect patients and registered nurses, given the absence of enforceable standards for nurse staffing in hospitals and the widespread practice of health care facilities stretching their nursing staff with unsafe patient loads, mandatory overtime, “floating” to specialty units without training and orientation and other practices that undermine the delivery of safe, quality care.

Speaking of floating, another time my bladder was not monitored, until it was at near fatal levels pushing toward kidney failure. I was of course blamed for not telling the staff I felt bloated. ‘My bad!” However in all fairness to me, I am…what was that long word on my chart that apparently no one can read… PARALYZED. FYI to the staff, strangely enough for some folks (moi), more info please visit these websites:- paralyzed means cannot feel anything. “I know, perhaps while I monitor my bladder, blood levels, fluid intake and out take I could manage your Mutual Fund Portfolio. I am such a slacker laying here with all this free time just wasted away in Marguerita-Morphine-Ville.” Yish!

Add to that being given the wrong pills. Oh, did I mention the infection on my arms from too many IVs? The night doctor said ice packs, the day doctor said heating pads. What to do? I used ice packs based on the fact that the night doctor was nicer. and cuter. (So sue me for sexual harassment; I was on death’s door. I cared?) And I was robbed (okay, it was only 4 Godiva candy bars @$4 a pop, but it wasn’t like I could jump in a car and go get more, was it?) And what goes better with morphine than chocolate?

I was misdiagnosed for the first two days. Fortunately I had a friend from my church who was a doctor who came to my rescue. He urged the hospital to get a neurologist. Once there the pleasant neuro-chappie diagnosed my condition in 5 minutes, thus saving my legs, so I can now walk. (LISTEN TO ME: Get these Patient Advocate Ninja people lined up in advance folks, you may need them.)

But what to do if you are in a strange place when all this occurs? Fortunately there is a movement afoot called the National Patient Advocate Foundation and they have a companion organization the Patient Advocate Foundation. These fine folks are for hire to help patients. This from their mission statement:

National Patient Advocate Foundation ( is a national non-profit organization providing the patient voice in improving access to, and reimbursement for, high-quality health care through regulatory and legislative reform at the state and federal levels. NPAF translates the experience of millions of patients who have been helped by our companion, Patient Advocate Foundation (, which provides professional case management services to individuals facing barriers to healthcare access for chronic and disabling disease, medical debt crisis and employment-related issues at no cost.

The NPAF and PAF is a great start, but let me tell you, you’re going to want to line up someone who can come with you into your room. A person who can watch your back when you’re, well, flat out on that back. This might be a good time to befriend a linebacker or a Harley rider, just saying.


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