Are Hospitals Safe?
From my experience as a physician assistant, I have first-handed witnessed countless medical errors. I have seen who the good doctors, nurses, and medical assistants are. I have seen those who hold back and do their job with less enthusiasm.
Therefore it is up to the seniors and their families to take notice and advocate for themselves. This means questioning every action and why it is being done.
Avoid Hospitals in July.
For seniors undergoing complex procedures, hospitalization during July poses heightened risks because new medical students with very little training are coming in to direct care and surgeries.
I had one Chief of Emergency Room Services tell me he takes the whole month of July and August off. When I asked him why, he said, “Because I can’t stop these new residents from killing patients and I prefer not to have my name on their charts.”
Sadly, he is not wrong. Medical students come out book smart, not experienced and so many of their missed diagnoses and treatment options are fatal to our patients.
If you have to go to the ER during July and even August, demand an intern. They have at least one year under their belts.
Listen to Nurses About Doctors
I found my nurses and medical assistants knew more about what was going on than the doctors did. They were in the thick of patient care. Make sure you keep a journal with your patient. No medications are given to this patient unless a full explanation is given to you and the diagnosis or reason behind it is also given.
I saw one woman ask this and told she had schizophrenia and needed the pill. She was not the right patient. Had she not asked this, she might have left the hospital with the wrongful diagnosis of schizophrenia which was never hers to begin with.
Verify Who You're Speaking With
As I’ve said so many times before when you talk to someone, make sure it is the right person. When calling in the phone, you are usually talking to a central location call center who has never laid eyes on you or your patient. If they are a nurse or medical assistant they may not have access to your chart. They cannot give you the needed information. Make sure you are getting answers from the doctor.
I’ve seen countless patients discuss concerns with their doctor and then call in with a question. The answer comes back totally different than what was discussed with the doctor. Our members at the Senior Freedom Club have been trained that this is a reg flag. Someone who is not the doctor is answering questions for them.
This is poor medicine and can rapidly lead to medical errors. Only your doctor should be answering your questions.
Keep a Detailed Journal
Maintaining a detailed journal during hospital stays is invaluable for tracking interactions with medical staff, documenting treatments received, and recording decisions made regarding your older adult's care. This journal serves as a comprehensive record that can aid in understanding medical bills, tracking the effectiveness of treatments, and facilitating communication with healthcare providers. Additionally, the journal can serve as a source of empowerment, enabling family members and advocates to actively participate in decision-making processes and advocate for their older adult's needs.
Engage the Social Worker Early
Social workers play a vital role in discharge planning and post-hospital care arrangements for seniors. By engaging with the social worker early in the hospitalization process, you can ensure that appropriate plans are in place for your older adult's ongoing care needs. This proactive approach helps to avoid rushed or inadequate discharge decisions and ensures that your older adult receives suitable placement and support for their recovery and rehabilitation.
Question the Necessity of Procedures
It is essential to advocate for your older adult's well-being by questioning the necessity of tests and procedures recommended by healthcare providers. Some doctors may be influenced by financial incentives, leading to unnecessary or excessive medical interventions.
Remember, your patient rights say that you can refuse any procedure you do not want. By asking critical questions about the potential benefits and risks of procedures, you can ensure that you or your loved one get the care they need.
The reason is this so important is that many hospitals have “protocol”. This means they have developed a template for all patients entering the hospital with let’s say, “Stomach pain.” Now you may have other issues causing stomach pain and that is not why you’re there at all. However once the protocol is in place, you will get a myriad of unnecessary tests and procedures if you do not ask why these tests and procedures are being done. Do not let anyone tell you because the doctor ordered it. Only the doctor can tell you why it was ordered so seek them out.
If you like this information, want to age healthy and fit, and keep yur family relationships on a high note, then join the Senior Freedom Club where we give BOTH seniors and their adult children the best tips we know on aging.