Most of us try to avoid the hospital. But if you need a hospital, make sure and do the following:
1. Pick a High-volume Hospital and Doctor
Studies have shown that patients fare better when they’re treated at hospitals and by doctors that care for many patients with a similar illness or condition.
2. Ward Off Nasty Bugs
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 million U.S. patients acquire an infection in the hospital each year. One effective way to guard against this threat is to insist that every hospital staff member washes his/her hands with soap or alcohol gel before examining you. Wash your own hands often as well. This may be the single most effective way to prevent in-hospital infections.
3. Ask (lots of) Questions
Make sure you understand what medications and treatments you will be receiving, and ask your doctor to explain them if you don’t. If you need surgery or another serious procedure, it’s also important to know what will happen, how long it will take, and what to expect during your recovery period.
4. Know Who’s in Charge
Find out the names of your attending nurses and the doctor in charge of your care. Obtain a phone or pager number of the doctor who will track your progress inside and outside the hospital.
5. Disclose All Medications
The Institute of Medicine estimates that two out of every 100 patients admitted to a hospital experience a preventable adverse drug event. Keep a list of medications you are taking, including over-the-counter remedies and herbal supplements, and show it to every one of your doctors.
6. Avoid Surgical Site Errors
Ask your surgeon to state and mark the site of your surgery before you go under the knife. Taking this simple step may help prevent a surgery location mix-up.
7. Focus on Getting Home
Hospitals can be dangerous places. That last thing you want to do is spend more time than you need to in a building where antibiotic-resistant germs and other infectious bugs proliferate. Focus your energy on getting home as early and safely as possible. Upon discharge, ask your doctor to clearly explain the treatment plan for the rest of your recovery.
8. Bring an Advocate
Ask a family member or friend to serve as a second set of eyes and ears, to ask questions of clinical staff, and to double-check your medications and other treatments with doctors and nurses. You can also hire a caretaker to make sure you are comfortable. Go to www.professionalcaretakers.com to find an advocate for your hospital stay.