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Top ten ways to have a “pleasant stay”.

October 15, 2012

If you are admitted to the hospital, it will stink on many levels and you will hate it.  BUT, there are some ways to make your stay more pleasant or at least more understandable.  Here are a few:

1. Get outta your bed!  The quickest way to stay in the hospital is to stay in bed.  Just because you are assigned a bed doesn’t mean you need to be in it.  Unless YOUR DOCTOR (more on this later) says you can’t, get up and move around.

2. Wake up early.  YOUR DOCTOR will come around very early.  Be awake, be ready, be sitting in a chair if possible.  Ask questions.  Don’t let the man/woman out of your room until you know the plan.

3. Don’t bug the interns.  Residents are doctors but only just barely, and they usually can’t help you in any fundamental way.  Their job is to make sure things get done.  So be nice to them but don’t ask them too many questions.

4. Figure out who YOUR DOCTOR is.  You can refer to a previous blog post on this site for more information on this.

5. Make friends with the nurses.  They have more access to YOUR DOCTOR than you do.  Pick one or two that you see alot and save your questions for them.  Nurses are not your room service maids.  They are highly trained.  Be nice.  If possible, make your own bed.

6. Bring a book.  Nothing happens quickly in a hospital.  The TV channels will be terrible.  Bring something to do, a book or sudoku or knitting or your computer or something.  Otherwise you’ll go nuts.

7. Check before eating.  There’s nothing worse than being scheduled for a procedure you have to have an empty stomach for and getting cancelled cuz you had waffles for breakfast.  Many procedures and surgery require you to have nothing by mouth (NPO in doctor speak) for a certain number of hours.  This should be ordered for you but mistakes on this matter are common.  Just check before you eat.

8. Know what pills you are being given.  For several reasons, most of them silly and legal, you can’t take your own meds when your’e in the hospital.  They have to be ordered for you and your nurse will bring them to you.  If one doesn’t look familar, ask what it is.  Doses of things might be getting changed or adjusted for a reason, or they might not.  Everyone is very careful, but we are all human and mistakes do happen.  Also, don’t fret if your drugs are not given to you when you usually take them.  Computer ordering systems generally have default times, like if you take something 3 times a day you might see your pill at 9am, 2pm, and 9pm, when at home you take them at 7, 12 and 6.  Don’t worry about it.  Also, your nurse has 3 or 4 other patients besides you that need that 9am dose.  Don’t bug her if it’s late.

9. The coffee sucks.  Get a family member to get you real coffee.

10. Have an advocate.  If you cannot do any of the things on this list yourself, make sure you have someone with you who can.  Hospitals usually don’t have strict visiting hours anymore.  Make sure someone can be there early for rounds, someone who know the plan, can ask questions, can buy your coffee.  There is nothing more important.



From → Healthcare

One Comment
  1. Emily Wareham permalink

    Thank you for the “get outta bed” recommendation. I would love to have done this, but the Protocol for all patients in my situation was to be restrained by a catheter. The hospital KEEPS THIS SECRET until the day you arrive for surgery. If you knew in advance, you could ask your spouse to come sit with you and help you to the toilet as needed, or hire a nurse, but this cannot be arranged on a same-day basis. And the hospital does not want the liability of letting relatives help you. Instead, the hospital wants to maximize the number of immobile patients to minimize the number of nurses and unit staff.

    I would dearly love to take out an ad in the newspaper to expose the hospital’s secret. People have a right to know all hospital Protocols to which they would be subjected, so that they can choose other hospitals if their health plans allow, or else have the chance to negotiate with their doctors *before* they stand naked and crying before their cancer surgery. I spoke to 3 lawyers about how I might be able to complain and take some action, but none wanted to help. One told me the hospital would come after me; the others only wanted to sue, but rejected my case because it would not bring a big enough award to make their time worthwhile. What happened to autonomy in health care? What happened to ethics in lawyers? I think these purported qualities are like Santa Claus: we grow up believing in them and then learn as adults that they never existed at all and that we were fools for hoping.

    Your “Protocol is not only for the Queen ….” is spot on — but the Protocols can be negotiated if and only if the hospital will be honest and tell you about them up front.

    As money for health care shrinks, so will physicians’ and hospitals’ credibility. People are already telling the same jokes about doctors as they tell about lawyers.

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