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Can You Get Respect In The Hospital?

February 19, 2011

A few years back I had both knees replaced. After years of sports and maintaining my Clydesdale body, it was time to make the pain go away. The doctors were very optimistic, as I was in my late forties and they felt I would be dancing around the room within a month or two. Not so!  Within a month, one knee became infected,  and you can imagine it took a bit longer before I was dancing around the room. My stay at the hospital was uncomfortable and I wasn’t happy with the staff of nurses that cared more about their shift work premiums, breaks (and once they knew I was a tax guy) their net checks –  than actually caring for patients. A hospital stay should be a time of healing. But all too often the experience erodes a patient’s personal dignity (I will certainly spare you my personal stories). Here is how to ensure that your needs are met and your dignity stays intact during hospitalization…

  • Ask about everything. Let your doctors and nurses know that you plan to play a major role in your care. Ask about treatments and prognosis. Don’t worry that your doctor will think you lack confidence in him/her or that asking questions will cause resentment among the hospital staff, producing worse care. Hospital patients who ask questions receive better and more respectful treatment, studies have shown.
  • Know who is treating you. Hospital staffing levels have been drastically reduced. A person in a white uniform is not necessarily a doctor or nurse. In fact, it may be someone with almost no training, such as an orderly. If you are concerned that the person is not fully trained in the procedure, refuse it. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you receive treatment from someone more qualified.
  • Don’t be shy about seeking help. If no one responds to your call button within a few minutes, pick up the phone. Call the hospital operator and ask to be connected to the nursing station on your floor. When the phone is answered, say you need help in your room – immediately. I waited 45 minutes for a nurse to pick up a bed pan (oops, there I go telling you details). You can always ask for the hospital’s “patient representative” as they are there to be a liason between staff and you (I still can’t believe that is a whole department).
  • Have someone with you at all times. If you are seriously ill or undergoing surgery, you probably won’t have the energy or mobility to protect your rights. So have someone with you 24 hours a day. As long as your “advocate” is not interfering with the delivery of care, he/she has a right to be there.
  • Know your rights. You have a right to say “no” to any medical procedure. You have the right to see your medical records. You have the right to check yourself out at any time,even against the advice of hospital personnel. You have the right to fire your doctor. You have the right not be treated by a medical student, if you choose.

At GAI (www.gunwel.com) we treat our clients with repsect and dignity. Working with clients on financial issues visits several levels of intimacy and some folks can feel uncomfortable. At Gunwel we try to make every experience here enjoyable and easy. Call us at 212-979-6830 or stop by for a visit. Let’s get started on making you feel good about your finances…and your tax doctors! See you soon!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2011 4:43 pm

    Excellent post and one that anyone should read.

    As we age, we will nearly all find ourselves in a similar situation and we all need to be aware of our “rights” before being admitted!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Michael
    CCO OutMaturity

  2. February 21, 2011 1:30 pm

    Thanks Michael, the sad part is that so many people are so frightened of the whole hospital experience that they almsot surrender without a fight. So you are correct that we all need to know our rights.
    Cheers!
    Bill

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