The Defy Aging Newsletter
Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness
a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.
April 23, 2009 Number 207
Surviving a Hospital Stay
Action to take
If you or a loved one is hospitalized, develop a plan to help survive the stay.
Hospitals are dangerous places. There are infections acquired at the hospital, medication errors, drug interactions, miscommunications, falls, unhealthy food, and neglect. Most people put a lot of planning into going on a vacation, and no planning into a hospital stay. To help you come out alive and healthy, you need to know how the system works and how to work the system.
Often patients are too weak, too medicated, or too stressed to advocate effectively for themselves. An advocate/support person can be critical to asking questions during rounds, ascertaining the diagnosis and treatment plan, checking medications, and getting the staff to wash their hands, and getting the staff to see the human side of the patient. Martine Ehrenclou, author of Critical Conditions: The Essential Hospital Guide to Get Your Loved One Out Alive, interviewed dozens of hospital staff to glean ideas on how navigate a hospital stay. I think the most important advice she gives is to have an advocate.
I guess I’m a little macho or overly independent. Asking someone to be my support person at a hospital seemed so unnecessary. I would hesitate to ask my wife because she would also need to take care of our eight year old twins. After reading Martine’s book and talking with her, I have now a very different perspective. Now I wouldn’t hesitate to ask for help. What’s more I would have a list of specifically how I would want the support person to help. I probably would even ask them to get up early to catch rounds.
The next thing that especially impressed me that most about Martine’s advice was developing a relationship with the head nurse and telling your story or your loved one’s story to her or him and other staff. It’s the difference between being the knee replacement in bed 213B and being the fascinating person with common interests.
Whether it is in your cell phone, a planner, or an address book, have somewhere that you store your phone numbers and addresses. Make sure that it includes the medications, supplements, doctors, and key medical history. If you are responsible for a parent or someone else’s care, make sure you have their information as well. You also want to have a living will and if needed power of attorney documents. Without them, matters can get very complicated and difficult if one becomes unable to make decisions.
Certainly some hospitals are better than others. Within hospitals some are better at treating some conditions than other conditions. Websites that can help you find the best hospital care include:
You can hear the 50 minute podcast of my interview with Ms Ehrenclou at Ageless Lifestyles® LLC
Discharge planning starts at admission.
My dad's in the hospital and he's critical. He's okay. He just complains about the room; he can't stand the nurses; he hates the food....
Do you know how to avoid overexposure to X-rays? Join an HMO.
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"Dr. Michael Brickey, The Anti-Aging Psychologist, teaches people to think, feel, look and be more youthful. He is an inspiring keynote speaker and Oprah-featured author. His works include: Defy Aging, 52 baby steps to Grow Young, and Reverse Aging (anti-aging hypnosis CDs). Visit www.NotAging.com for a free report on anti-aging secrets and a free newsletter with practical anti-aging tips."