There’s no question that hospitals are busier than ever, and the staff is running pretty thin. Shortages among nurses and other support staff members are becoming very common.
It’s easy to empathize with the situation many medical professionals are in – unless you’re a patient who is in a health crisis. Then, you have to worry about the possibility that one of your providers will make a bad situation worse by making a mistake with your care.
What can you do to keep yourself safer if you have to visit the hospital? Here are some tips:
#1 Take a list of your medications, conditions and allergies with you
One of the biggest things you can do to protect yourself is to make sure that your caregivers have all your information. Don’t trust your memory (or the hospital’s records, if you’ve been there before) when you’re having medical problems. Carry a written list that contains:
- The names of all your medications and dosages
- A list of all drug allergies or anything that’s relevant, like a latex sensitivity
- The names and contact information of your primary care physician and specialists
#2 Ask questions, ask for help and tell your provider if you have a problem
It’s hard to get good medical care when the staff is so short-handed. Information may not get properly conveyed during shift changes – or a rushed nurse could mistakenly hand you the medication meant for the patient in the next bed.
If you’re alert enough, make sure that you:
- Make sure that you verify that every medication you are given is something that you recognize and expect to receive.
- If you’re not sure why you are (or are not) receiving a certain treatment, ask questions.
- If you suspect a problem, such as a blown vein for your IV or a growing infection, tell your nurse and ask for assistance.
Don’t be afraid to be “that” patient. If you aren’t up to the task, take along a family or friend who isn’t afraid to ask questions or be a little proactive on your behalf.
When medical mistakes happen, the consequences can be devastating. If it happens to you or your loved one, find out more about your legal options.