Patient Advocates At The Hospital: An Essential Checklist For Your Hospital Visit

by | Aug 11, 2017 | 0 comments

We have already discussed what to do before you get to the hospital in order to ensure that you and your loved ones will have a safe and comfortable stay at the hospital. Please go here for more information.

However, planning and preparation does not end as you enter the hospital door. Instead, it intensifies. Here is where all your well-meant plans can crumble due to stress and unanticipated challenges. Don’t worry, though! We at CampaignZERO have your back with easy to follow checklist and instructions.

What to Do at the Hospital

1. Speak up and ask questions

You have every right to clear, complete and accurate information. After all, the care all for you or your loved one’s benefit. Some worry that they will “look stupid” asking questions, or that their questions will offend the doctors and nurses. Don’t let these thoughts prevent you from asking important questions!

  • Ask:
    • What is the Plan of Care today?
    • What are the care goals?
  • Share:
    • Patient’s goals
    • Patient’s questions
    • Patient’s concerns
  • If docs and nurses react badly to your questions, voice your concerns to supervisors.

2. Keep everything clean

Infections like MRSA, VRE and C diff kill about 100,000 patients a year, and infect over 700,000. These germs can attack anyone with deadly force – even in the very best hospitals. Superbugs are everywhere! So how do you prevent you and your loved ones from catching these diseases in the hospital?

  • Wash your hands! The #1 way to prevent infection is keeping hands clean. No one should touch a patient without washing their hands first. Surprisingly, doctors skip this step about half the time. It’s up to you to remind them, as hard as that may be. Make sure everyone else who enters your room you does, as well.
  • Frequently use antimicrobial foam or gel. In most patient rooms, the soap and foam dispensers are near the door.  Patients need to keep their own hands clean, too. They can’t be expected to get out of bed to do this! Put antimicrobial foam or gel in EASY reach where it will be easy to use, and share with anyone who comes near who has not washed their hands.
  • Ask for antibacterial surface wipes and hand cleansers for every room to kill germs and bugs. Wear disposable gloves when you use them, and remember the “rule of ones”:
    • One wipe
    • One side
    • One surface
    • One direction.
  • Check out the CampaignZERO checklists for more tips and information on preventing these deadly infections.

4. Keep track of everything

Despite their best efforts, sometimes care providers mix up patient records and the results can be disastrous. To avoid the situation, double check every medication and test that you or your loved one receive.

  • Be diligent about every detail of every medication. Look up every medication given to your loved one in online drug directories. Ask your doctor about side effects and interactions to watch for.
    • Ensure that the Medication follow all these guidelines before it is administrated
      • Right Patient
      • Right Drug
      • Right Dose
      • Right Time
      • Right Route
    • Make sure that the nurse checks your loved one’s wristband and verifies his/her name out loud to confirm “right patient.”
    • However, never interrupt a nurse giving a medication unless you sense a mistake is being made.
  • Make sure the test and test results are accurate and necessary. Whenever you receive a test, ask your doctor or nurse the following questions:
    • What is the test name?
    • Who ordered it?
    • Why was the test ordered?
    • How will results be used?
    • When will the test administered?
    • When will results be ready?
    • When will patient hear results?  By whom?

5. Safeguard rest, but speak up for alarms

Staying in a hospital is fatiguing for both patient and caregiver, but rest is necessary for recovery. To make sure that you and your loved ones can rest safely while in the hospital:

  • Bring ear plugs and eye masks for you and your loved one to use.  
  • Ask your nurses to help you manage visitors. People naturally want to wish you well while you are in the hospital, but too many visitors will be counterproductive if they don’t let you rest when you need to.
  • Get a nurse when an alarm goes off on monitors or pumps. On busy hospital units, nurses and doctors can sometimes tune out noises, including alarms, in order to focus on a task at hand. This alarm fatigue is a very real problem. Always alert the nurses when an alarm sounds to make sure you and your loved one are properly attended.

6. Support Your Nurses

Nurses have to be multitasking geniuses. They tend to multiple patients, recording their information, giving them medicine, and tending to their needs. They are on their feet all day, day after day, with only a few sporadic breaks. Support your nurses in their jobs by doing a few of the following:

  • Ask “what may I do to help?”
  • Show them your CampaignZero checklists, and ask which items you can handle on your own 
  • Keep the room very tidy, uncluttered so that they can efficiently tend to you and your loved one

7. Avoid weekends

People often try to minimize the time they have to take off work, so weekends are busy times for medical care. However, a busy hospital means things are more likely to slip through the cracks. You will likely receive better attention and medical care if you avoid hospitalizations on the weekends.

  • Try to schedule non-emergency surgeries on Tuesday or Wednesday so that you will likely be discharged by Friday.  
  • If a weekend stay is needed, consult with all doctors about any potential problems to especially watch for
  • Get all doctors’ direct contact info
  • Arrange 24/7 family and friend caregiving coverage at hospital so that you will always have an advocate

Our Patient Advocate Office is ever just an email or phone call away: 703-222-1300 – we’re happy to help! A phone call is free and it could save a life or reduce a large hospital bill.

Free eBook: My Health Guide

Whether you’re going in for a routine checkup or need to keep track of medications: the following documents will help you prepare for your hospital visit, track medications, and keep on top of follow-ups.