A trip to the hospital can leave family members and caregivers feeling more reactive than proactive. For some of us, the medical jargon can be so over our heads and the stress and worry levels so high, that it seems best to stay on the sidelines when it comes to caring for a patient. For instance, have you ever found yourself thinking- “this doctor/nurse deals with these situations all the time, so they know how to handle it much better than I do…” Or how about when a sibling asks why your mom received a certain kind of medication or what the side effects are and you say, “I’m not sure, the doctor told me we should do it.” There are incredibly caring and knowledgeable health care professionals in the world that are experts at what they do, but as a family member you are an expert in that particular patient, and that counts for something, too! No matter how great the health care professionals involved with your family may be, advocacy for your patient in the fast-paced health care environment is critical.
But how do you know what to do or what to ask? This is a start. Here is a recent blog from the New York Times that poses “Six Questions to Protect Elderly Patients.” Her blog noted that “About a third of patients over age 70 experience hospital delirium, and the consequences can be serious, delaying a patient’s recovery and even leading to placement in a nursing home.” So, to play a more proactive role in the care of your family member or loved one, Pam Belluck of the NYT, suggests asking the following 6 questions when it comes to older patients:
1. Do the nurses and doctors routinely screen for delirium or identify high-risk patients?
2. How does the hospital deal with agitation or delirium in patients if it develops?
3. What does the hospital do to keep patients from becoming disoriented?
4. What policies are in place to make sure patients get adequate sleep?
5. If my family member needs a urinary catheter or other bedside interventions, how does the hospital decide when to remove them?
6. Will the physicians and pharmacy staff review my family member’s medications to identify medications that increase delirium risk?
Read the complete blog here.