Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How to look after yourself in the hospital

Yes, look after yourself. If you leave it all to them, you may regret it.

Kati Kieber, BSN, Rn, CCRN, is a critical care nurse in the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit at Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, NC.

Her book is titled: Admit one: What You Must Know When Going to the Hospital--But No One Actually Tells You.

Here are some of her tips:

Bring a list of the medications you take. The doctor in the hospital will decide which ones to keep you on and the pharmacy will provide those and any new ones.

Make a list of health team members. Many people will come and go from your room. Ask them what their role is. Make a note of  names and any instructions they provide.

Know your code. .Know how many measures you want them to take if something goes wrong. This is why people have Living Wills and Do Not Resuscitate Orders.

Assign a spokesperson. Make sure the hospital people know whom they can call. The person should be easy to reach and trusted with your health information. (I used to use my sister--but when I asked her what the doctor said, she would say, "I don't remember." Not helpful.)

Write down questions as you think of them--or have someone do it.  Doctors and others breeze in--it is easy to forget your issues.

Advocate for yourself.  Tell the nurses of changes you feel. If you are not happy with someone caring for you, let it be known.

Leave the equipment to the experts. There is a lot of high tech stuff in the room--if alarms ding or ring, call a staff member, don't attempt to reset or fix things by yourself. This can even result in---er, death.

I would add--don't be afraid to ask someone coming in to wash his or her hands. Often this is overlooked.

You also can refuse any service. But refuse wisely. Insist a medical professional discuss it even if it takes a few minutes.

Oh--and I would also add be sure you know what to do when you leave. Often, people take the prescriptions they get upon discharge and also continue their usual ones when they get home. Make sure this is what is intended.

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