You cannot control doctors and nurses. And you cannot make their decisions for them. You also cannot make them follow the standard of care. You may, however, be able to help make your hospital stay a bit safer. Preparing for your hospital stay may help prevent medical malpractice.
Medication errors still occur in hospitals. Doctors may prescribe the wrong medication. Nurses may give the wrong dose. To help prevent medication errors, you can:
- Bring your medications with you. Bring the bottles. Reviewing the labels might help prevent dosing errors.
- Tell the medical providers about medication allergies. Tell all of your medical providers. Don’t assume it’s in your chart or that they have read your chart.
- Have someone with you at the hospital. The second set of eyes and ears can help you as the patient keep track of what is going on.
- If your medications look different, let someone know. If you are used to taking a blue pill and are given a white pill, ask about the change before you take the pill.
- Be aware of what medication you take for what ailment.
- Let someone know about a bad reaction to medications.
- Make sure your care team checks your hospital wristband before giving you medication. This will help prevent your getting your neighbor’s medication instead of your own.
Keeping your Kids Safe in the Hospital
Children are especially vulnerable in the hospital. Kids may be too afraid to speak up. They may not understand what is happening to them or around them. Parents and family should take extra care to protect kids in the hospital. Here are some ways you can protect your child:
- Ask about every aspect of your child’s care. Take notes. Make sure that the care is consistent with your notes.
- Question each doctor and new provider about the care your child is to receive. This helps make sure they’ve reviewed your child’s chart. It also helps to keep the care consistent.
- Share your concerns with the care providers. Do not be confrontational. Share your thoughts as a concerned parent.
- Ask about all medications your child is given. Make them tell you about potential side effects that you need to watch for.
- Build a relationship with the care providers. Remember you attract more bees with honey than vinegar.
- If your child needs surgery, ask the surgeon to physically mark the surgery site, so there is no confusion in the operating room.
- Ask to stay with your child. See if they can move a bed into your child’s room. Kids can tend to get worse in the night. Most parents will attest to this.
Preventing Hospital Falls
Hospital falls can prove to be very dangerous. Patients who are at risk of falls can include those who’ve had surgery, given birth, who are under the effects of medication, or who are having neurological problems. If you need to get out of bed, you should:
- Use your call button to ask for help
- Wear non-slip socks or footwear that fit well.
- Lower the bed height and side rails before trying to get out of bed
- Dangle your feet over the side before standing up
- Ask your healthcare providers if any of your medication causes dizziness.
- When in doubt, ask for a bedpan. Your safety is more important than your privacy.
Helping Hospitalized Family Members
Family members of patients can help. Staying informed and being present can help prevent hospital errors. Here’s what to do:
- Let the care team know who you are and that you are someone who can help.
- Be present for rounds, shift changes, and any major conferences with the care team. Give them your phone number in case you miss them.
- Take notes
- Stay with a patient recovering from surgery. Stay overnight if you can.
- Arrange for people to stay in shifts. Get your rest, but make sure someone is there in your absence.
Preparing for Your Hospital Stay may not Prevent Medical Negligence
Patients and their family cannot prevent medical malpractice. They can, however, help make it less likely. If despite your efforts, a loved one has been the victim of medical neglect, you need an attorney to help you learn your rights. Chelsie King Garza can help.