When you are in the hospital, you may feel helpless. You are away from home, out of your comfort zone, and at the mercy of the people charged with taking care of you. You don’t have to take it lying down, however. Learn what questions to ask and when to speak up for your own protection.
Be Your Own Advocate—Or Bring One With You
If you are undergoing a non-emergency procedure or elective surgery, there are things you can do when scheduling your visit to protect yourself. Once you are in the hospital, however, it is even more important that you take steps to make sure you do not become a victim of a doctor’s or nurse’s negligence. Make a list before you go to the hospital, and include the following:
- Take someone with you. When you are in the hospital, you need someone in your corner. Plan to have a family member or friend with you as much as possible. This person can act as your eyes and ears, especially when you are asleep or on medication that makes you foggy. The best choice is someone who is not afraid to ask questions on your behalf.
- Bring your prescription bottles with you. While the staff should ask what medication you have been taking, having your bottles with dosage labels with you will ensure that you don’t make a mistake in relaying the information and that they don’t make a mistake when writing it down. It is also a visible reminder to staff that you are taking additional meds which may interact with hospital treatments.
- Request a blood-clot screening. If you are at risk for blood clots—and most long-term patients are—make sure you are given compression socks or heparin therapy to prevent venous thromboembolism, the cause of death in 1 in 100 patients. Don’t wait for a doctor to offer—ask the question upfront.
- Ask for help getting around. Falls can result in serious injury, especially if they happen while you are recovering from surgery. You should be given skid-proof socks for walking around your room, but if you are at all unsteady on your feet, ask for help from the staff, who should respond quickly.
While asking for these things may initially make you feel uncomfortable, remember that doctors, nurses, and hospital staff are all there to help you. The mistakes they make are almost always unintentional, and a word or two from you could prevent an error that could end their career. If you ask nicely and don’t take an accusatory tone, they may even thank you.
Our Experts Know What to Do
If you suspect that you have been the victim of hospital negligence, call us toll-free at (217) 394-5885. Our on-staff nurse and network of medical professionals will assess your case and let you know if we can help. Don’t hesitate—call now.