About Me

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Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in English, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with MA from R.I. School of Design. Barking Cat Books published my first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. My humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. In 2018 Barking Cat Books published my SURVIVING YOUR DREAM VACATION: 75 RULES TO KEEP YOUR COMPANION TALKING TO YOU ON THE ROAD. See website By CLICKING HERE.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How Not to Get Sick(er) in the Hospital

This is a recap of a Consumer Reports article of the same title, February, 2015, pages 32-37.  The information reinforces the experiences I relate in my book, ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS. In a future blog I'll discuss the physician's "squeeze."


- Check infection rates at local hospitals before surgery.
   Go to www.LeapFrogGroup.org to check
   hospital performances on
   patient safety, high risk procedures, and intensive care.

- Pick a medical team that will involve you in decisions
   about your care and respect your capacity to make
   those decisions.

-  Make clear to the staff you want to be treated with patient respect and dignity.
   Among 1,200 recently hospitalized people surveyed by Consumer Reports,
   29% said they rarely received respect from the medical staff.  Those patients were
   2 1/2 times more likely to experience a hospital-acquired infection, a wrong
   diagnosis, an adverse drug reaction, or a prescribing mistake.

   Respectful treatment includes:
   Doctors minimizing use of medical jargon or explaining it
   Staffers introducing themselves before doing anything else
   Doctors and staff listening to your concerns, answering questions, honoring your
   Medical teams acknowledging mistakes and treating you like a person

   If a patient doesn't think the staff is listening or his wishes aren't
   being met, he'll hesitate to ask questions, point out mistakes, or communicate
   in ways that could improve his situation.

   "The safest hospitals," according to a group of Harvard Medical School doctors and
   researchers as reported in Academic Medicine (journal), "share core values of
   transparency, accountability, and mutual respect."

   "Every day almost 2,000 people on average pick up an infection in the hospital and
   about 1,100 preventable drug errors occur.  Hospital medical errors are linked to
   440,000 deaths annually."

   The greatest danger for a patient in the hospital is NOT 
   infection or drug error.  
   Patient (or advocate) engagement
   has been nicknamed
   "the blockbuster drug of the century."


- Let a nurse know the extent of your pain.

- Find out what tests and procedures are for.

- Ask about drug side effects and interactions.

- Be a person to the staff, not a diagnosis.  Talk about your family or personal details
  about your life.

- Invite doctors to have a seat and look at them in the eye to initiate direct
  eye contact away from an electronic device or clipboard.

- Bring an advocate with you (family member, friend, health care proxy, 
   health care manager) to make sure you're comfortable, to get information 
   from the doctor written down, to help you make decisions, to speak for you 
   if you aren't able.  The advocate should meet the head nurse, attending physician, 
   therapist, and aide.

- Have an advocate with you when the most hospital errors occur (shift changes 
  and care transitions).

- Keep a journal and pen or e-device for questions and notes.

- Make a list of questions for the doctor when he makes his rounds.

- Ask your questions but try not to alienate the doctor or staff.

- Ask a doctor to repeat himself if you don't understand. 

- If you don't see your doctor or nurse wash his/her hands, make a respectful request
   that he does so.  Gloves don't necessarily stop the spread of infection.

Many thanks to my friend Al West for passing this article along to me!