Seeking medical care as a Black American has its challenges, to say the least.
From securing access to care to finding a trusted professional that makes you feel seen and safe, navigating the healthcare system is a unique experience as a person of color. So it’s important to know your rights as a caregiver and how to advocate for yourself or a loved one.
In a perfect world, we could all walk into any office and receive the proper care and attention we need. But research shows that there is a racial bias present in healthcare that affects how providers make recommendations for Black patients or even assess their pain, meaning sometimes, even as unfair as it is, it’s up to us to speak up and speak out.
Here are three ways you can advocate for your loved ones at your next medical appointment:
1. Set your priorities before the visit, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
To make the most out of every appointment, figure out the patient’s priorities beforehand and come prepared to ask questions about it until you understand. Medical visits are typically filled with a lot of jargon, but it’s 100% okay to ask for clarification on anything you or the patient doesn’t understand.
2. Carry a notebook and pen with you.
This might sound unnecessary, but when there’s so much being covered in one appointment, it’s easy to miss something. So come prepared with your Notes app or a notebook to jot down any important details about treatments, medications, or questions.
3. Know the facts.
One of the best ways to advocate for a patient is to know their medical history and be familiar with their current symptoms and well-being. You can bring records along with you to the appointment and research any of your loved one’s conditions beforehand, so you know what to ask the doctor or expect on their behalf.
Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to speak up.
For a list of questions you can use as a patient advocate at any appointment, check out this resource from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality!