While the nature of the patient’s condition and the state of the art of the treatment you receive factor largely in the prognosis, there are some things you can do to help your chances of having a favorable outcome from your hospital stay.
First, it is essential that you become and remain informed as to what is going on, who is doing what and why, with respect to the patient’s care. An essential element to keeping informed is to visit the patient often, at least once a day, if medically permitted. This not only encourages the patient and lets hospital staff know that you are monitoring the patient’s progress, but it also increases your opportunities to personally witness the care and learn more. Ask questions of doctors and staff but be careful not to interfere or become burdensome with your inquiries. Avoid sounding picky, demanding, or arrogant. Temper your questions with a spirit of learning and concern. Avoid using an accusing or hostile demeanor when talking with hospital staff. Ask friends, relatives, and acquaintances regarding choices of specialist physicians and surgeons. Solicit candid opinions from hospital staff that you know personally. Don’t make such inquiries while at the hospital as it is not likely you would get a candid opinion in that environment, and employees could be fired, disciplined, or sued for slander.
Read and be familiar with the “Patient’s Bill of Rights,” if one exists. Ask on admission whether or not it is posted. If a matter doesn’t seem right, know the “politically correct” way to make your concern known to someone who can do something about it. This may be as simple as asking to speak to the charge nurse, or if there are multiple issues, the hospital’s “Patient Advocate”. At admission, ask if such a person exists and how to contact him or her. Know and use the names of the RN’s and nurses aides caring for the patient on each shift. Try to learn when various consulting physicians and the attending physician will be making rounds and try to be present when they see the patient. Identify and meet face to face with the social worker or case manager in charge of the patient’s discharge to the community. Discuss and identify specific disabilities and consequently any potential unmet needs that may present at discharge. Discuss how these needs will be met in the community environment. Finally, give timely and fair feedback when asked to complete a “quality of service” survey.
Some things are beyond our control and that is true of almost every aspect of living, including whether or not a patient has a favorable/successful stay in the hospital. Those things that we can control for the patient’s benefit, we should. Typically, patients with weak or no advocate have less favorable outcomes than patients with strong or multiple advocates. Be an advocate!
Area Agency on Aging
200 South Main Street
Greensburg, PA 15601
Contact: Mark Hanna