10 Tips on How To Stay Safe
in the Hospital
A recent study has shown that there may be at least 48,000 deaths a year linked directly to hospital infections. And this doesn’t even include accidents and mistakes that regularly occur. So, we, at Senior Voice want to bring you 10 Tips on How To Stay Safe in the Hospital
1. Patient Advocate: Enlist a family member, friend or professional to act as your advocate. Ask this person to show up on a regular basis and get involved to oversee and monitor your care. He or she will act as your eyes and ears while you are in the hospital.
2. Keep a log: Record your daily progress, medication names and dosages, procedures, treatments, and list medical professional’s names and contact info. Take notes on conversations with doctors and nurses. Few people, if any, can remember everything that is discussed.
3. Create a patient checklist: When you encounter any new medical professional such as when you are transferred to another part of the hospital for tests, procedures or surgeries, carry your patient checklist with you. It should list your full name, birth date, your primary physician’s name, your diagnosis, list of medications and dosages and your allergies to medications. Show your checklist to any new medical professionals that are treating you and ask them to check the information with their records before they proceed.
4. Log Your Medication: Medication errors are among the most common medical errors, harming at least 1.5 million people every year (Institute of Medicine). Write down your medications and dosages. List what the medication looks like, the shape and color of any pills, the names on the labels of bottles or IV bags. Create a detailed description as labels and bottles can look alike. If you don’t recognize the medication when it is administered, ask questions. Be assertive. Don’t trust that the professionals read all the of the chart. When the introduction of any new medication occurs, repeat any allergy information to your primary nurses and physicians.
5. Sign Says: “Please wash your hands before touching me.” To prevent hospital-acquired infectious diseases, among the most common are MRSA, C.diff and pneumonia, ask every person who comes in contact with you, including the physicians and nurses, to wash their hands or put on a fresh pair of disposable gloves before touching you. Place antibacterial gel next to your hospital bed and ask everyone to use it.
6. Concur with the Surgeon: To prevent surgery on the wrong body part. Be-fore you enter the operating room, you or your advocate should ask to see the surgeon to go over your name, birth date, type of surgery, and the correct site on your body to be operated on. If the surgeon is not available, ask to see the anesthesiologist and nurses involved in your case and repeat this same checklist with each one.
7. Prevent falls: Enlist the help of family members or friends to sit with you if you may be at risk for falling. If you have had surgery, are ill, or are medicated, you are at risk for falling. If someone cannot be with you 24/7, hire a sitter or private duty nurse to fill in. Your hospital should have referrals.
8. Prevent misdiagnoses: Ask your doctor why he/she thinks a certain diagnosis is appropriate for you. Ask if there is anything else that could be attributed to your symptoms. Research any diagnosis on credible websites such as medical societies (American Cancer Society) or those ending in .edu. or .org. Get a second opinion or a third. Ask questions. Be assertive.
9. Off hours lead to medical mistakes: Medical errors increase at these times, nurse-to-patient ratios increase and doctors are less likely to be available. Ask your advocate to be with you as much as possible or hire a sitter, companion or private duty nurse to fill in.
10. Build a team: If your advocate cannot be with you 24/7, ask that another two to three family members or good friends share shifts to be at your bedside. Keep the notebook in your room and ask that everyone share the task of taking notes and acting as watchdogs.
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