Patient advocacy refers to speaking on behalf of a patient in order to protect their rights and help them obtain needed information and services. The role of patient advocate is frequently assumed by nurses, social workers, and other healthcare providers. Some hospitals, health insurance companies, and other healthcare organizations employ people specifically to assume this role.
The December 2005 edition of Entrepreneur Magazine listed patient advocacy as a hot business trend for 2006. 
Nursing and patient advocacy
Patient advocacy is fundamental to nursing. The American Nurses Association (ANA) includes advocacy in its definition of nursing as "the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations."
The role derives from healthcare ethics. For instance, the ANA's Code of Ethics for Nurses includes language relating to patient advocacy:
- The nurse's primary commitment is to the patient, whether an individual, family, group, or community.
- The nurse promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.
- ANA. Nursing's Social Policy Statement, Second Edition, 2003, p. 6 & Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, 2004, p. 7.
- ANA. "Code of Ethics for Nurses - Provisions". Retrieved 2006-10-15.
- The Patient Advocate Foundation A National Network for Access to Care, Job Retention, Appeals, Education for Health Care.
- Every Patient's Advocate Helps patients advocate for themselves and their loved ones