What You Need to Know Before A Hospital Stay

What You Need to Know Before A Hospital StayIf you or a loved one will be going to the hospital as an inpatient, you could make the incorrect assumption that it will be like a stay in a luxury hotel but with better service.  After all, we in Southwest Florida do have beautiful hospital facilities like Health Park and Gulf Coast Medical Center.  They are visually attractive and filled with the latest technology.  But, remember they are medical facilities and YOU are responsible for your health care.

Here are some things to keep in mind so that you or your loved one receive the best possible care.

First, if you are on Medicare and are in the hospital through the emergency room, find out if you have been ADMITTED or are on OBSERVATION status.  This sounds like merely semantics, but it’s not. The care may not look any different, but to Medicare there is a significant difference.  If you have not been ADMITTED for three days, you are NOT eligible for Skilled Nursing Facility care to be paid for by Medicare.  This is very important if you are released from the hospital but are not quite ready to function well in your own home.

Also, make sure that you have a COMPLETE listing of the medications you take, including over the counter products like Tylenol, any  vitamins and any supplements and of course, prescription drugs.  Your providers need to know this to make sure there are no dangerous medication interactions.

Along with this, when it is time to be released from the hospital, make sure you get a list of the medications you are NOW taking.  Changes may have been made and you need to know.  You also need to know when to take the medications, if the pills can be crushed, why you are now taking this medication (for what condition), if the medications can be taken together, if there are any dietary restrictions (for example, some cholesterol medications can not be taken with grapefruit), and when and if you can discontinue the medication.

Again, when you are being discharged, ask if there are any things that you need to be aware of regards regarding your condition.

If you are going to the hospital for surgery, try to schedule it early in the week.  That way, your surgeon should be available to check on you rather than his or her associate. Additionally, you are more likely to have the same nurses caring for you.  Also, try to schedule your surgery for the first one of the surgeon’s day.  Your surgeon and the other members of the staff will be fresh and you will have a lower likelihood of a delay.

Lastly, and by no means any less important, no patient should EVER be alone during a hospital stay.  A family member, friend or patient advocate should be with the patient at all times.  This is something that Dr. Atul Gawande, surgeon, Harvard Medical School professor and author, espouses.  There are a number of reasons for this.  The first is that the patient is dealing with a health problem and is not in the best condition to ask questions about their treatment or medications.  It is vital to make sure that the correct medication is being administered.  Unfortunately, errors are made and they can be corrected  before they can become an issue.  Also, it is important to observe providers washing their hands before they touch the patient or anything else that will touch the patient.  If the patient is sleeping, they may not make this observation.  Infections can be prevented by ensuring that proper hand washing procedures are implemented.  Also, the staff is busy and may not notice or be aware of sometimes subtle changes in the patient’s condition.  Someone sitting at the patient’s bedside can make these observations and alert the staff.

Peace of Mind Patient Advocacy can provide assistance in these situations.  Please contact us at 239-322-9153 or peaceofmindpatientadvocacy@gmail.com to arrange your complementary consultation.

Peace of Mind Patient Advocacy
1616 Cape Coral Prkwy. W.
Suite 102, PMB 245
Cape Coral, FL



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