What is the Physician’s Role in Patient Advocacy?

As patients, we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that we need to advocate for ourselves, not only within the healthcare system, but also with governments who make the decisions about what is and isn’t provided.

This year Kidney Cancer Canada will be speaking at the Canadian Medical Association’s General Meeting in August specifically on the topic of the physician’s role in representing the patient voice to governments.

We know from experience that some physicians are quite willing to advocate and will do “whatever it takes” for individual patients. Others are not so keen, preferring not to “rock the boat” at their hospital/cancer agency or with their peers. Some physicians will not mention treatments that are not available in Canada or in their province, or they believe are unaffordable if the patient has no private drug insurance.

So, some questions for you:

    What role does your physician play in advocating for what you need as a kidney cancer patient?
    Why do you think your physician (or others) might be reluctant to advocate with government on behalf of a patient?
    How could your physician best partner with you and others to help you advocate for what you need?
    Are there any limits or boundaries for how far a physician should go in advocating on behalf of patients?

Some interesting reading:
In an Open Letter to Physicians, Alberta Health Services has made a very clear statement that the physician must speak up.

The Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada (CACC) Report Card includes an excellent article entitled “Walking the Tightrope: Physician Advocacy and Institutional Fidelity“.

What do you think? Think back to your last discussion with your physician about surgical wait times or drug treatments… what was your sense of what your role could or should be? How comfortable would you be partnering with your physician to advocate for change? Would your physician be willing?

If you had a chance to tell 1200 physicians something about representing patients with government, what would YOU say?

Please feel free to post a comment here, or if you would prefer, to email us directly at: info@kidneycancercanada.ca

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One thought on “What is the Physician’s Role in Patient Advocacy?

  1. If doctors are looking after the patients best interests, it is imperative that they take a stand in advocating for treatments that are available in other hospitals, provinces or countries that will benefit the patient. Many patients trust the doctor to do what is best and do not know, or are not able, to advocate for themselves.

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