The selection of the Patient Advocate is a very important decision. This person will make decisions regarding doctors, hospitals, drugs, surgery, and other decisions regarding the care of your person. The Patient Advocate also will make decisions regarding life support.
When clients ask for our advice regarding who they should appoint, we ask them to consider the following:
- Select someone who can make the difficult decisions.
- Usually only a family member will accept this appointment.
- Select someone who has similar thoughts and beliefs regarding treatment and removal of life support.
- Does someone in the family have medical experience, such as a job as a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional?
One last thing to consider - If you are in favor of having life support being removed, avoid appointing the “White Knight.” This generally is a family member who has not been involved with your care and generally lives some distance away from you. When you become ill, this is the person who, all of a sudden, feels guilty about their past inattentiveness and now tries to “make up” for it by being the person to “save your life”. This person generally will block the removal of life support. If you name more than one person as your Patient Advocate, all of them must agree on all decisions before any action may be taken by the hospital or doctor. This White Knight may cause a lot of stress and problems for the other family members and your wishes may not be followed.