Many people who are badly injured in a car accident or workers’ compensation accident end up in the hospital, sometimes for an extended period of time. I know it is stressful and even frightening when a loved one is hospitalized for treatment of a serious injury or illness. It can be even scarier when you consider the prevalence of of of health care-associated infections and the potential for medical errors. Hospital patients are already vulnerable. And nobody want things to get worse. Fortunately there are 10 simple ways to protect your loved one while in the hospital.
- Be there and be aware. The physical presence of a loved one with a patient means a lot. The vast majority of caregivers, including nurses and doctors, badly want to provide quality care. But they see many patients a day and it is easy to let quality lapse. Wake up and every time any medical provider walks in the room. Being present with watchful eyes is perhaps the most important thing you can do to help your loved one.
- Show somebody loves this patient. Fill the room with flowers, balloons and cards. Encourage friends and family who can not visit to send a card or other reminder. Make sure the patient always has clean clothes and ample personal items. This will lift the spirits of the patient and, just as importantly, show the medical providers that this person is special and is being monitored.
- Ask questions. I can not emphasize this enough. Try to understand what is wrong with your loved one and what is being done to address it. Ask for the names of medications when they are administered and ask why procedures are necessary before they are done. Be polite, but don’t be shy. If a medical provider seems to resent your questions, watch them carefully and keep asking questions.
- Keep a notebook. Document the medications your loved one is taking, upcoming procedures, the names of treating physicians, and other information. It’s easy to forget things especially with extended treatment.
- Research. Identify reliable sources of information on your loved one’s condition and learn about it. The National Institute of Health, the Mayo Clinic, and the Centers for Disease Control are a good start.
- Monitor all visitors. It is normal for people to want to visit and show support. But be sure these visits do not interfere with the patient’s rest or cause unnecessary anxiety. Make sure all visitors wash their hands with soap and water AND use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- Delegate. Ask someone in your church, neighborhood, family or other concerned groups to take charge of that group’s efforts. Encourage them to have everyone go through them and then support that when people reach out to help. You do not want ten people from the neighborhood calling to ask how things are going and what they can do.
- Help with housekeeping. Keep the room clean and neat and free of obstacles that can trip the patient. Take it upon yourself to clean doorknobs, bed rails and other frequently touched surfaces with bleach based cleaners.
- Stay positive. Keep a positive attitude around the patient. Listen to their complaints but respond with positive thoughts.
- Take care of yourself. Try to share the burden with a trusted friend or loved one. Eat healthy, exercise, and try to sleep. Sometimes, you just have to go home and take a break.
As a lawyer in Cary, North Carolina, I hope these 10 simple ways to protect your loved one while in the hospital have been useful.
If you have questions about a car accident or workers’ compensation claim, please feel free to call Cary Lawyer Kevin Bunn for your free consultation.