Why the patient advocacy industry is growing

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Patient advocate may be a new term to you; it had been to us too. An advocate offers a patient and his or her family services from attending doctors’ appointments and explaining medical jargon to reviewing and negotiating medical bills. Some advocates focus on a specific disease or approach to treatment.

The profession is officially seven years old, but on a rapid growth trajectory as our population ages and the health care system becomes ever more fragmented. For patients who have suffered through numerous procedures without experiencing improvements or struggled to get a diagnosis, these advocates can help.

Why are these advocate needed? A director of the Safe Patient Project cites a power imbalance in provider/insurer and patient relationships. The health care system is also becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. Simply transferring medical records or decoding the bills can require patience and tenacity.

One service that these advocates provide is finding doctors for hard-to-diagnose diseases. But are there any other remedies when a diagnosis has been missed.

When is a missed diagnosis malpractice

Many illnesses have similar symptoms, but it is the job of doctors to carefully work to find the root cause of your pain or discomfort. In our September 30 blog post, we discussed how assumptions about weight can lead to misdiagnosis.

Failing to diagnose a condition in a timely manner can cause significant harm. A delay in a cancer diagnosis delays the start of treatment. Allowing malignant cells to multiple over months or years while fighting to obtain the proper diagnosis reduces the chance of survival. If standard medical procedures where overlooked, the civil court system can be used to hold a doctor accountable for malpractice.

Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to afford one of these professionals or have access to one where they live. A medical malpractice claim remains a remedy that levels the field when a diagnosis has been completely missed or delayed.

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