There is an ever-increasing risk of hospital errors, from improper procedures to deadly infections. Too many hospitals are under-staffed, unsuitably unclean, and administratively haphazard. Avoid hospitals if you can. But if you cannot...
The article which follows has been excerpted from a copy of the AARP Monthly Health Newsletter, an excellent informational resource for Baby Boomers, Seniors and Caregivers, too. The photograph inserted appears courtesy of Dan Saelinger, photographer. The odds of your condition worsening, your being treated for the wrong ailment (receiving the treatment for another patient's ailment, or due to a misdiagnosis), suffering complications, infections and even possibly death have gone up dramatically in recent years.
You must be your own (or have your own) patient safety and rights advocate if your must be admitted to a hospital. You must be vigilant and assertive -- it has become a matter of your own survival.
After you've read the article, please hit the "BACK" Button on your browser to return to this site for some of the critical steps that you can take in order to being part of a very sad statistic.
BEFORE EVER BEING ADMITTED TO A HOSPITAL, REMEMBER:
1) Be certain that you have received at least two opinions from two separate practitioners (one who is preferably more involved in diagnosis than in surgery -- don't visit the surgeon first), and then gone back to advise the first of what the second suggested ... you might just wind up with a third opinion as to the correct course of action to take;
2) Run a Google or other search on the hospital, as well as on the individual practitioner who is going to perform the procedure, if one is necessary. If either the hospital or the practitioner has been cited for numerous violations of codes, laws, ethics, common sense, consider yourself warned -- you must choose another course;
3) Be certain that the hospital has all of the information regarding your case (your medical history and files, any healthcare proxy or other legal documents, any information about allergies and procedures) from your primary care provider, your diagnosing physician and your surgeon. Your surgeon MUST have a complete set of your files from your primary care provider well before a surgery is scheduled;
4) Be certain that your family, friends and co-workers know where and when you will be undergoing a surgical procedure. Don't be shy.
5) Write a note (email, fax or by other method -- and request acknowledgement) to the surgeon, the surgeon's scheduling assistant, and to the admitting office (find the right person to address direct at each of these places) a note on your letterhead (with a visible copy to a family member, close friend or caregiver/aide stating;
- Your name (and communications coordinates);
- Your primary healthcare provider (and communications coordinates);
- Your surgeon's name (and communications coordinates);
- The exact name of the procedure to be performed;
- The date that you are to be admitted for the procedure;
- Any allergies, or dangerous conditions which you might have.
5) Have one of the above persons bring you to the hospital, go to admissions with you, and stay with you until you are brought into the surgery. Don't look like you are unaccompanied or friendless. Let the staff see that someone is there with you. Make certain that you tell everyone with whom you interact at the hospital what your name is, and what the procedure is that you are there for... up to the moment before you are sedated per-operatively;
6) Have one or more of the above persons phone the hospital frequently to inquire as to your status. If you are staying overnight, be certain to have someone visit you as well.
7) If you have any unanticipated discomfort, swelling or adverse reaction following your leaving the hospital, call the surgeon and advise him or her, and then immediately go to emergency room at the hospital and insist (with your trusty friend or family member at your side) that you be admitted -- say, that you believe that you believe that your wound is infected, that you are bleeding internally....whatever you think the problem might be. It is also a good idea to advise family, friends and your primary healthcare provider of this unfortunate development. Put a scare into the hospital. Don't be afraid that you might be calling in a "false alarm" -- your life is on the line, and your health is the most important thing.
Be proactive. Ask questions. Get answers and acknowledgements. Be the "Squeaky Wheel" - it's far better than being a 'wond4erful, brave patient, who dies due to the consequences of a hospital error during the surgery or during the post-op aftercare.
Don't trust your life to anyone, except yourself. Be your own best advocate.
Douglas E. Castle for The Links 4 Life Alerts Blog
p.s. Forward this article to your family, friends and colleagues. Show you care. Pay it forward.