Risks and Benefits for Nurses for Being a Patient Advocate

Patient advocacy is a concept of nurses’ being a link between patients and doctors with a certain degree of involvement in the processes of decision-making. Whether nurses should, are supposed to, or are allowed to be patient advocates is a controversial issue nowadays. There are risks as well as benefits for nurses in patient advocacy.

Risks of patient advocacy include disruption of treatment, conflicts with doctors, and dismissal. Many nurses expressed concern about the lack of clear ethical guidelines for rules and boundaries of advocacy. Nurses find it difficult to advise patients or express opinions on doctors’ decisions, thus facing the threat of being punished or fired.

On the other hand, there is also recognition of advocacy benefits. According to a survey of nurses in Tehran, the main incentives of patient advocacy are closer relationships with patients and closer cooperation with doctors. While some physicians do not want to hear nurses’ opinions, other ones appreciate teamwork. At the same time, as a nurse develops a better understanding of patients’ needs and desires through advocacy, he or she can contribute to the improvement of treatment.

Since nurses’ advocacy role is a debatable subject, it is important to acknowledge risks and benefits. For many nurses, intervening in the treatment is associated with the risk of being fired or aggravating the patient’s state. However, it is recognized that advocacy can be beneficial both for the patient and the medical staff.

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