Patients who are ill depend on nurses to help them return to an optimum healthy state.Utilizing the nursing process allows nurses to take an active role in a patient’s care.According to Oliveira and Tariman (2017), nurses spend more contact hours with the patient than any other member of the healthcare team. Therefore, nurses have an important role as a patient advocate.It is the duty of a nurse to speak up on behalf of a patient to protect their basic rights and safeguard their safety (Oliveira and Tariman, 2017). Advocating for patients may be difficult for some nurses because the patient may want or decline treatment and it is the nurse’s responsibility to make sure their wishes are met. Patient advocacy also entails speaking to other members of the healthcare team to maintain the best interests of the patient. Standing up for patient’s rights, no matter how difficult it is, is a nurse’s responsibility (Grand Canyon University, 2018). Barriers that nurses may encounter are lack of support from administrators, acuity of patients, not using evidence-based practice, lack of assertiveness or confidence (Oliveira and Tariman, 2017). It is important for nurses to remember that one must practice according to the guidelines set by the nursing practice act of their state and advocate for their patient within their scope and standards of practice.
In my experience as a labor and delivery nurse I have had several opportunities to advocate for my patients. In one instance I had a laboring patient who was very adamant that she did not want an epidural. She wanted to experience a labor with minimal interventions. When her physician came to evaluate her, he was upset that she did not have an epidural. He started to try to intimidate and scare her into getting one.There was no medical necessity for it and she looked at me and started to cry. I verbalized to the physician that she did not want an epidural and I was going to be sure that whatever her wishes were, we were going to respect them, no matter how inconvenient he felt it was for him, as long as there was no medical contraindication. My patient delivered with no epidural and was so thankful and appreciative that I helped her not get bullied into an unnecessary procedure when there was no medical indication for it.