5 things your hospital won’t tell you

5 Things About Elder & Senior Care in Clearwater, FL

A hospital is supposed to make you better, but without taking certain precautions, you may end up regretting your visit. Seniors in particular can run into more negative experiences due to their lack of advocacy. It is of utmost importance that when you or a loved one are admitted to a hospital, that you have an advocate to keep an eye on your care. Private  home care nurses and trained caregivers can service as your advocate if you do not have a trusted friend or family member that can be at your side around-the-clock. Let’s look at a few reasons why you need to protect yourself when you are admitted to a hospital.

  1. Errors happen all the time

In recent years, errors in treatment have become a serious problem for hospitals, ranging from operations on wrong body parts to medication mix-ups. At least 1.5 million patients are harmed every year by medication errors, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. One reason these mistakes persist: Only 15% of hospitals are fully computerized with a central database to track allergies and diagnoses, says Robert Wachter, the chief of the medical service at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center. But signs of change are emerging. More than 3,000 U.S. hospitals, or 75% of the country’s beds, signed on for a campaign by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to implement preventive measures such as multiple checks on drugs. In the first 18 months of the campaign, these hospitals had prevented an estimated 122,300 deaths. Though the system is improving, it still has a long way to go. Patients should always have a friend, relative or hired advocate at their side to take notes and make sure the right medications are being dispensed.

  1. Getting out of the hospital doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods.

A study released recently by Resources for the Future, a nonprofit group that conducts independent research on public health issues, says infections of sepsis and pneumonia acquired in the hospital may kill 48,000 people each year. What’s more, the study shows, these infections cost $8.1 billion to treat and lead to 2.3 million total days of hospitalization? Such revelations, along with the recent increase in antibiotic-resistant bugs and the mounting cost of health care, have mobilized the medical community to implement processes designed to decrease infections. These include using clippers rather than a razor to shave surgical sites and administering antibiotics before surgery but stopping them soon after to prevent drug resistance. For all of modern medicine’s advances, the best way to minimize infection risk is low-tech: Make sure anyone who touches you washes his or her hands. Tubes and catheters are also a source of bugs, and patients should ask daily if they are necessary.

  1. It’s not easy to find the person in charge.

In a sea of blue scrubs, getting the attention of the right person can be difficult. Who’s in charge? Nurses don’t report to doctors but rather to a nurse supervisor. And your personal doctor has little say over radiology or the labs running your tests, which are managed by the hospital. Some facilities employ “hospitalists” — doctors who act as a point person to conduct the flow of information. Most hospitals now have rapid-response teams — specialized personnel who can rush to the bedside to assess a declining patient. Haskell urges patients to know the hospital hierarchy, read name tags, get the attending physician’s phone number and know how to reach the rapid-response team. If all else fails, demand a nurse supervisor — likely the highest-ranking person who is accessible quickly.

  1. All hospitals are not created equal.

How do you tell a good hospital from a bad one? For one thing, nurses. When it comes to their own families, medical workers favor institutions that attract nurses. But they’re harder to find as the country’s nursing shortage intensifies; by 2020, there will be a deficit of about 1 million nurses. Low nurse staffing directly affected patient outcomes resulting in more problems, such as urinary-tract infections, shock and gastrointestinal bleeding, according to a 2001 study by Harvard and Vanderbilt University professors.

Another thing to consider: Your local hospital may have been great for welcoming your child into the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best place to undergo open-heart surgery. Find the facility with the longest track record, best survival rate and highest volume in the procedure; you don’t want to be the team’s third hip replacement, says Samantha Collier, the chief medical officer of HealthGrades, which rates hospitals.

An American Nurses Association website lists “magnet” hospitals — those most attractive to nurses — and a call to a hospital’s nurse supervisor should yield the nurse-to-patient ratio.A good tool to help consumers evaluate hospitals is a website operated by the Department of Health and Human Services that compares hospitals against national averages in certain areas. The site includes information about how well hospitals care for patients with certain medical conditions as well as the results of surveys given to patients asking them about their stay, says Anne F. Weiss, a senior program director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a health care nonprofit.

  1. Most ERs are under staffed

A 2007 study from the Institute of Medicine found that hospital emergency departments are overburdened, underfunded and ill-prepared to handle disasters as the number of people turning to ERs for primary care keeps rising. An ambulance is turned away from an ER once every minute due to overcrowding, according to the study; the situation is exacerbated by shortages in many of the on-call backup services for cardiologists, orthopedists and neurosurgeons.

Nearly three-quarters of ER directors reported inadequate coverage by on-call specialists versus 67% in 2004, according to a 2006 survey conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians.

If you can, avoi d the ER between 3 p.m. and 1 a.m. — the busiest shift. For the shortest wait, early morning — anywhere from 4 to 9 a.m. — is your best bet. If you’re having severe symptoms, such as the worst headache of your life or chest pains, a triage nurse is trained to recognize whether your symptoms constitute a medical emergency. Just know that emergency department staff are strained during busy hours, but giving “honest descriptions of your symptoms and truly working with the staff is the best way to advocate for yourself and your family as a patient,” says Darria E. Long, a doctor at Yale’s department of emergency medicine.

Bayshore Home Care can protect you while you are in a hospital by being your advocate.Our skilled nurses can serve as your own private health consultant and manage your case from hospital to home. The caregivers at Bayshore are available around the clock to be your eyes and ears in the hospital and look out for your best interest.


Portions of this article were taken from MSN.com and SmartMoney and originally reported by Reshma Kapadia and Lisa Scherzer