Staying Safe In The HospitalSubmitted by S. F. Ehrlich Associates, Inc. on January 3rd, 2017
January 3, 2017
I often tell my near 95-year old mother that we’re in charge of our bodies when it comes to doctors, but I’m constantly reminded that I’m dealing with someone from a generation who scrupulously listened to everything a doctor said.
I share the following from Consumer Reports1 because at some point you, or a loved one, will likely have a hospital stay. Pay careful attention; the life you save may be your own. (What’s the point of trying to grow your portfolio if you’re not going to be here to enjoy it?)
“Many hospitals have cut the risk of central-line infections among their patients, but too many have not. And sometimes bad things happen even in good hospitals…Here are key steps to take:
- Check up on your hospital: To compare hospitals in your area, go to CR.org/hospital-ratings.
- Have a friend or family member with you: That person can act as your advocate, ask questions, and keep notes. A Consumer Reports survey of 1,200 recently hospitalized people found that those who had a companion were 16 percent more likely to say that they had been treated respectfully by medical personnel. The most important times to have a companion are on nights, weekends, and holidays, when staff is reduced, and when shifts change.
- Keep a record: Keep a pad and pen nearby so that you can note what doctors and nurses say, which drugs you get, and questions you have…You can also use your phone to record thoughts or conversations with staff.
- Insist on clean hands: Don’t hesitate to say: I’m sorry, but I didn’t see you wash your hands. Would you mind doing it again?
- Keep it clean. Bring bleach wipes for bed rails, doorknobs, the phone, and the TV remote, all of which can harbor bacteria. (My note: I use them in hotel rooms; don’t you?)
- Cover wounds: Some hospitals examine incisions daily for infection…Newer techniques...reduce chances of infection.
- Inquire whether IVs and catheters are still needed: The longer they’re left in place, the greater the infection risk.
- Ask about antibiotics: For many surgeries, you should get an antibiotic 60 minutes before the operation. But research suggests that the type of antibiotic used or the timing of when it’s administered is wrong in up to half of cases.
- Postpone surgery if you have an infection. That increases your risk of developing a new infection and worsening an existing one.
- Say no to razors: The nurse should use an electric trimmer instead.
- Question the need for heartburn drugs: These drugs increase the risk of intestinal infections and pneumonia, so consider stopping them before admission.
- Test for MRSA: Ask your surgeon to screen you for MRSA, a potentially deadly bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.
- Watch for diarrhea: Get treated for C. diff if necessary.
- Quit smoking, even temporarily: You won’t be allowed to smoke in the hospital anyway, and stopping as long as possible beforehand cuts the risk of infection.
- Wash up the night before: Ask about taking precautions before entering the hospital, such as bathing with special soap or using antiseptic wipes.”
The Center for Disease Control estimates that health-care-associated infections (HAIs) affect 5 to 10 percent of hospitalized patients in the U.S. per year. Approximately 1.7 million HAIs occur in U.S. hospitals each year, resulting in 99,000 deaths and an estimated $20 billion in healthcare costs.
1 “15 Tips for Preventing Infections and Staying Safe in the Hospital.” Consumer Reports, Jan. 2017.