Advocates that are independent of the system play an important role that assures patients and families are educated, informed and supported throughout their ordeal.
Yes, being hospitalized is an ordeal. There are changes that are immediately made when you enter as a patient from medication changes to physicians that don't know you. They are trying to figure out your problem but it's difficult when there is little continuity in staff.
Staff is changed every shift and every day. With every handoff there is something missed. Advocates, who work for the patient, can help fill those gaps.
Nationally the role is expanding and organizations such as RN Patient Advocates by Karen Mercereau who is a registered nurse http://patientadvocates.com/ and the National Organization of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants http://nahac.memberlodge.com/in California by Joanne Smith who is a social worker.