Patient Advocacy

What is an RN Patient Advocate?stairs leading to the nature

An RN Patient Advocate is a Registered Nurse who supports, intercedes on behalf of, or lends assistance to, patients and family members, anywhere along the healthcare continuum, where guidance through the system can reduce fear and make the process of recovering from illness and injury more clear and understandable.

There aren’t words to describe how relevant and valuable your services as a patient advocate were this past year as our Mother declined and finally passed away. My brother and I living away from Asheville made this asset even more valuable and necessary. But more than all that was the genuine love and caring and the close bond between you and our Mother that she loved you as one of us. The joy you brought her was priceless and that made her ordeal more tolerable. She so looked forward to each visit and was confidant that all the care she received by all the other professionals was monitored and guided by both your technical experience which seems to be vast, but also by the heart and spirit that were part and parcel of everything you did.

There aren’t enough thanks and hugs to repay you and I hope others that are faced with any medical care situation can and will have you to benefit from. ~ Joseph Hinkle, Jr

How Can I Assist You as a Patient or Family Member?

Support you as you negotiate the complex healthcare settings and find the care and support you need

  • Review your entire medical record to help you understand your treatment plan in simple, layperson’s language, and, if necessary, follow-up with questions about your treatment plan and diagnoses.
  • Help you develop a list of questions for your physician or healthcare provider.
  • Help you clearly understand your prescribed tests, treatments, or medications, including side effects, indications, and contraindications.
  • Help you gain access to whatever healthcare facility you need and, if appropriate, to whatever specialist will best support your current issues in a timely manner.

Help you get answers to your healthcare questions, from the appropriate source, in a timely and effective manner.

–In a hospital or acute care setting:

  • Request to see the primary care physician, specialist, or hospitalist.
  • Review your chart and follow up on abnormal lab work, radiology results, or other tests and procedures.
  • Address staffing issues on a busy nursing unit.
  • Help you submit a complaint about healthcare workers or other issues.

–Review your hospital, clinic, or other healthcare facility bills to assess for billing errors, overcharges, or duplicate billings; and then to provide support for appealing these charges.
–Join you at physician appointments for moral and professional support.
–Visit you or your family member at the hospital and talking with physicians, healthcare providers and/or nursing staff about your plan of care.
–Help you schedule a patient care conference with key members of the healthcare team to get a clear understanding of the goals of care and, where applicable, post-hospitalization plans.

Assist patients and families in finding other information including holistic, complementary and integrative care practitioners.

  • Identify education materials for you including websites, local healthcare advocacy and support groups.
  • Educate you and your family on the importance of keeping a medical journal at home with a reverse chronological order approach to record-keeping including the documentation of all tests, lab results, physician appointments, medication prescriptions, dental appointments and other health care provider records.
  • Discussing potential medical errors in all healthcare settings, identifying the healthcare effects of these errors on you, and finding steps to address and improve the effect these errors have and discuss outcomes with your healthcare providers.

“I’ve known Karen Sanders for over a decade and without qualifications, I recommend her as a health care patient advocate to anyone needing a smart, savvy and supportive presence in navigating heathcare transitions and crisis. She has been an invaluable resource to me.

Over the years, I have sought her wisdom in various situations for those I care about and for myself as well. My experience of Karen is that she has great observations skills and a quick intuition that allows her to ask just the right questions to problem-solve and diagnose. As a Registered Nurse, she is knowledgeable of the healthcare system and is well connected with medical communities, allowing her to recommend appropriate physicians and integrative practitioners.  Beyond her many professional qualifications, she also has a gift for deep listening, and genuinely cares about her clients. I encourage you to seek out Karen Sanders as an RN Patient Advocate. ~ Sandra Smith, M.Div., Organizational Consultant

What Makes My Patient Advocacy Different?

My great passion in life is to assist patients and their families. I have 40 years of Nursing experience, mostly in hospitals, as a staff nurse, Unit Leader, and Director of multiple departments. I also have worked as a Practice Administrator of a busy Vascular Surgery/Interventional Radiology and a Musculoskeletal Pain Management physician practice and as a Director of a Medical Rehabilitation facility.

My experience as a Case Management Director has given me specific insight into the treatment and care of patients through the healthcare continuum, from pre-admission through discharge and then on to after-hospital care; including skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities and home health.

As Director of several acute care patient departments, I have performed hundreds of medical record audits to determine where errors were made; and then worked with hospital staff to create fail-safe systems to prevent recurring errors. I have a keen awareness of the multiple difficulties, dysfunctions, and lack of coordination that occurs within our healthcare system in inpatient, outpatient and skilled nursing facility settings.

My most fulfilling work is to help you and your family negotiate these healthcare dysfunctions and difficulties by working as a knowledgeable, supportive, kind, and nurturing RN Patient Advocate.