As advocates, we often hear from “friends”:
“My friend really needs help! Her health is deteriorating and she has trouble getting to the doctor. Will you help her?”
“My sister can’t handle her medical bills and they are piling up. I need an advocate who can help her organize them and get them paid.”
“My boyfriend has chronic pain and gets so frustrated with his doctor because he won’t help him. I need you to talk to his doctor.”
… and so forth…
Smart advocates don’t bite.
The friend is trying to be just that – a friend. Friends usually mean well! But the friend has no information for you, nor will he or she be inclined to pay you to help the friend who is the patient.
That’s not to say the patient-friend, doesn’t need you. The easy way to figure that out is to simply hand over a business card, or otherwise provide your phone number, and to suggest, “That’s certainly something I’m willing to discuss with your friend, the patient. Please have him (her) call me and we can go from there.”
If the inquiring friend doesn’t take the hint, and wants to keep trying to pull information out of you, then add, “I’m sorry. Your friend’s health information is personal. As a professional, it’s not something I can discuss with you. I can only discuss it with the person who actually needs the help.”
By simply providing your contact information, you not only provide a resource to the inquiring friend, you also avoid potential time-wasting conversations.
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