The story of a young mother who passed away in child birth has been making the social media rounds recently. There are conflicting reports as to what exactly transpired. Whatever the case, this event brought to the fore the concerns many have when attending hospitals. Many often don’t feel safe and relate several near misses during their hospital stay. To help, we suggest the following 6 tips to help survive your stay in the hospital.
1. Pick the right hospital
This is a key initial step as an excellent hospital will do its best to keep you safe. Currently it is difficult to determine the hospitals with the best outcomes as word of mouth is inherently biased. Try as much as you can however to get as much information as possible on the hospital you plan to attend.
We have an upcoming post on resources to help you select the right hospital. Follow us to know when it’s published.
2. Verify medications being given to you
Medication errors are not a rare occurrence in hospitals. In the United States for example, a study found up to 5% of patients in hospital experienced an error. Ideally your nurse should verify your name, date of birth and any drug allergies before administering the drug. Ensure to ask what drug and what dose it is. Observe the appearance of the drug and ensure it is similar all through your hospital stay.
3. Hand washing
Infections acquired in hospital are a common occurrence. The recent Ebola infection being the most dramatic and severe of all. Research has shown that when health care workers wash their hands, the numbers of these hospital infections decrease. Unfortunately not all hospitals are able to facilitate hand washing. To help, bring alcohol hand rub/ sanitizer with you and encourage any one in direct contact with you to use it. You can buy one here on konga.
4. Give formal consent and have surgery site marked
If you’re having any surgery done, ensure you speak about the risks of the procedure with the surgeon. The surgeon also needs your consent in writing before the surgery can take place. Importantly, ensure the correct site for surgery is marked. Horror stories are often told of wrong kidneys and other organs being operated upon.
Did you know that wrong-site surgeries happen 40 to 60 times a week in the United States
5. Ask questions and bring an advocate
When in hospital do not be afraid to ask questions and be sure about what is happening. Get written details of what was done prior to leaving. This can often be hard when your sick so it’s advisable to have a nominated advocate that can ask questions for you and liaise with your health providers.
If you feel aggrieved, ensure to seek an explanation. If you’re not satisfied, take it up with management, the ministry of health or the medical and dental council as it applies. This is particularly key if you feel there has been negligence in your case. Your reporting of the matter may forestall its future occurrence and save another’s life.
6. Be nice
This is most important. Treat hospital staff with respect and courtesy always. Theirs is a difficult and stressful job so spare a thought for them. Having pleasant exchanges humanizes you and them. They will thus treat you better and ensure you get the best care. Ensure that your family members are similarly courteous in all their interactions with staff.
Errors do happen and are not restricted to African hospitals. Preventable medical errors caused an estimated 440,000 deaths in American hospitals in 2013. So whatever hospital you’re in, apply the advice above and you should be able to survive your hospital stay.
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