May 15, 2013

Staying Safe in a Hospital

Dr. Leana Wen has some excellent points, but on a few of them, I have some severe reservations. Some of them are exactly what she states and after being in the hospital recently, I know I will be remembered and I created a bit of a stir by advocating for myself. I will know when the bills arrive just how much I was lied to, and I suspect I was carefully fed what they wanted me to believe especially when it came to a few things.

One thing I will mention before I forget it is this. The new beds they now have in the hospital are very high tech and they do their job in preventing you from getting out of bed if that is what they want. The air part of the bed is set to prevent you from getting out when you need to use the bathroom. I found out the hard way on this one. The first time I had to use the call button and get assistance. Then I figured out how to fool the sensors and get it to help me, as it could not adjust fast enough to prevent my getting out. This is because they do not want patients to fall and the air escapes to prevent you from getting over the edge. I did get past this and was able to use the bathroom on my own after the first time.

The following 12 points are Dr. Wen's advice to take seriously. They are good if you know you are going into the hospital for some purpose, but be careful if going in on an emergency. Many of these may not be possible and this is when you need to be extra careful. I know for me that I had people coming and going and each tried to divert my attention away from others. No, they were being rude to each other, they were out to keep me off balance and prevent me from establishing some rules. Eventually, I discovered their game and started diverting them and asking to speak to certain individuals. This then ended their tactics and got me the people I should have been seeing all along.

I recommend you read Dr. Wen's blog and I urge you to remember much of it. It could come in handy someday.
#1. Never go alone. Try to have a family member or advocate with you.
#2. Determine, in advance, the goals of the hospitalization. Not always possible in emergencies.
#3. Prepare. Bring records and at least a list of medications and when you take them.
#4. Meet your care team. Good idea as they do try to add people not needed.
#5. Know who to call for help and how. Important in emergency situations.
#6. Ask about every test done. You would be surprised what they try not to tell you.
#7. Ask about every treatment offered. Always a good idea and one that they may try to sneak past you.
#8. Keep a record of your hospital stay. This should be a must for family and/or advocates.
#9. Attend bedside rounds. Don't let them ignore you and make sure that a family member or advocate attends when they see you.
#10. Know your daily plan. Then if possible keep a diary to compare to this.
#11. Keep your eye on infection control. A lot of this can be eye wash and not actually performed.
#12. If something isn’t right, speak up immediately. Please do and record this in a diary to show that you did or that your advocate did speak up.

I will tell you that #11 is the big time problem area. There is almost no procedures in place in most doctor's offices or hospitals to prevent the spread of infections. Anyone handling a stethoscope can spread the infection as they seldom sterilize them (and probably never) and go from one person to another. Most of the time a person will have their clothes as a weak barrier, but when you are in the hospital, they often put them directly on your skin. Hello, infection.

I never saw one person wash their hands, but as they left the room, they religiously used the lotion dispensers in the wall dispensers in each room. The problem is that the lotion is not a sanitizer or hand cleaner. Its purpose is hand protection for them and supposedly to prevent chapped hands for them. Yes, they are supposed to wash their hands, but do not. I decided as I was being discharged to check the dispensers and got a surprise, the one in my room and the room next to me were empty. Big farce and I suspect they were empty the whole time.

You can be assured I will be asking for a detailed listing of all charges and disputing any that I feel are in error.

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