In today’s complex, profit-driven healthcare system, obtaining quality care is more challenging than ever. It led Teri Dreher, an RN with more than 36 years of critical care nursing experience, to become a professional patient advocate in 2011. Now, she’s published a how-to book for healthcare consumers to help them advocate for themselves and their families.
“Patient Advocacy Matters: The Ultimate How-to Guide to Protect Your Health, Your Rights, Your Life and Your Loved Ones” is designed as a resource for individuals trying to navigate today’s confusing, often-intimidating healthcare system.
“It’s too easy for patients to get lost in the shuffle,” says Dreher, founder and CEO of NShore Patient Advocates (NorthShoreRN.com), the largest advocacy firm in the Chicago area. “I wrote this book to give the average person the tools they need to look out for themselves and their loved ones in various healthcare settings.”
People like Darla, whose surgeon was unconcerned when she continued to hemorrhage after cancer surgery (Dreher, her ICU nurse, wound up with a ten-day suspension when she questioned the doctor’s decisions; Darla later passed away.) Or the 92 year old whose son hired Dreher as her advocate when his mom kept falling. (After studying her 14 medications—five which can cause vertigo—Dreher asked the woman’s doctor to review them. He discontinued several meds and recommended a nutritionist; now the woman is living safely in her home with support.)
The book is filled with fascinating stories about Dreher’s experiences as nurse, professional advocate and concerned family member. In addition, it’s filled with practical strategies that healthcare recipients can use to:
· Get the best care in hospitals, while staying safe
· Ask the right questions when weighing treatment options
· Help seniors make the right healthcare and living choices
· Navigate Medicare and the Affordable Care Act
· Know when it’s time to turn to a professional advocate
Professional patient advocacy is a new but fast-growing field. More consumers are using private professional health advocates to guide them through a healthcare crisis.
Dreher developed a passion for patient advocacy when her father-in-law fell critically ill on vacation in Belize. He survived as a result of Dreher’s hawkish intervention with both foreign and U.S. doctors and hospitals.
The experience made her wonder what would have happened if he didn’t have an experienced nurse by his side. This in turn led her to pursue national accreditation in RN patient advocacy and then found NShore Patient Advocates.
Her industry’s professional association, The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, has honored Dreher with its highest award. She sits on the board of the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants.
In addition, Dreher is active in the not-for-profit world. For more than a decade, she led medical missions to Africa. She recently co-founded Chicago’s No Little Girl… Taskforce, which is part of the Salvation Army’s PROMISE program to combat child sex trafficking.
Dreher is also an inspirational public speaker and gives presentations on topics covered in her book, including healthcare safety and the importance of self-advocacy.