Monday, April 13, 2015

Who's Watching Your Back?

It's 2am and you think your condition is deteriorating.  You ring the call bell and hope for the best.  Hopefully, it is not anything serious.

The author of The most important way to stay safe in the hospital- Have a friend or family member with you as much as possible, recommend that you keep your patient advocate by your side.  Hospitals are under immense financial pressure and sometimes the staffing ratios are not in your favor.  The article states that patients with friends and or relatives were treated better, had better interpersonal relationships with the staff, and had better explanations of what was going on.  Almost 30 percent of the patients said they experienced a medical error, such as a wrong diagnosis, medication mishap, or a hospital acquired infection.  They attribute this to a possible nursing shortage.

Even if the hospital is completely staffed, providers must prioritize the needs of multiple patients at the same time.  Your patient advocate can add another set of eyes to your particular necessities.

What is a patient advocate?  These are hospital-based personnel trained to guide you through the maze and interpret often misunderstood medical jargon.  Your family members and friends can help with this process.  The best advice is for them to be around when explanations are being made and hopefully interact with the staff in a positive way on your behalf.

An assertive personality helps, but when human nature is involved use of a carrot rather than a stick will yield better results.  A box of candy or donuts is often the ticket t o a mutually beneficial relationship.  Always have someone there if possible at least:
  1. the first 24 hours
  2. post-operatively for the first day
  3. when crucial decision are being made
When your presence is requested by your family, take the special effort to comply.  You may need that support some day.  The medical environment is sufficiently complex, and the cognitive pressures on patients are not small; hence such support cannot help but be beneficial.

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