Quote from James Huffman
I disagree that nurses are somehow a patient's "advocate" ... The idea that a nurse is a patient's advocate is founded on a particular theory of nursing practice, one by no means universally accepted in theory and practice. Obviously, I disagree entirely with that theory.
Interesting. I, too, have reservations about the strong push to say that one of the nurse's major role is to a be a "patient advocate." Did you discuss your disagreement with this with your instructors? I bet they'd love that (not!).
To me the concept of "advocate" means that you can't have any other roles that might conflict with advocating. But nurses do have many other roles such as administering treatments, monitoring physiological status, etc. Of course, nurses need to stand up for what they believe to be best for the their patients... but that has to do with patient safety and respecting the patient's wishes... and all health care personnel should be encouraged to do that. I don't see that as an "advocate" role though. Again, as I've usually seen it in practice, an advocate comes in as an otherwise uninvolved party
to ensure that the patient's wishes and needs are being met.
I imagine the concept of nurses being "an advocate" developed to counter the idea that nurses just blindly follow orders and to encourage nurses to speak up if they saw problems with how the MD was handling the case. I wouldn't call it "advocating" though. I'd call it informing the MD of extenuating circumstances or further information that he/she may not have considered in making their decisions and following the chain of command if the MD is making decisions that aren't in the patient's best interest.
Back to the OPs initial question... I'm curious, TeleRNer, if there was some specific incident or observation that led you to wonder about the possibility of an advocate bringing a lawsuit against someone.