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What Biases Don’t YOU Recognize?
As advocates, we all quickly become familiar with, and embrace, and share with clients, our Code of Ethics.* Of course, there are many tenets to the code, but primary among them is the very specific statement and belief that while acting as a professional patient advocate, we will never make decisions for our clients. We work to help them make their own decisions, we respect the decisions they make, and we assist them to be sure they are carried out. I’m sure, as you read that statement, you are nodding your head in agreement. YOU would never violate that tenet, would you? You are 100% committed to making sure your clients are making all their own decisions, even in difficult times. And yet… I received an email recently from a person who wants to start building an independent advocacy practice. In outlining her reasons for wanting to do so, she made this statement: I am passionate about patient care and ensuring that quality vs quantity of life is always respected. Pardon me, advocate, but your bias is showing! That said… I’m quite sure she would not recognize it immediately as being a bias. Do you? Well – it’s right there in black and white, “quality vs quantity of life is always respected.” … I have to ask, what if your client wants a longer life at any expense? What if his preference is quantity, rather than quality? Do you then lack respect for that client? or do you try to change the client’s mind? or do you decide not to take that person as a client because you feel differently? (Do you even know what that person really believes?) Pardon me, new advocate, but please take another look at our Code of Ethics! It’s not up to you to impose your preferences on your client. It’s incumbent upon you to ask questions, listen carefully, hear between the lines, and determine your client’s wishes. And then, of course, it’s up to you to help the client work toward his/her own preferences. (I am sure that if I would point this out…