Civility by Diana Olson:Hospital Etiquette I

Recently I spent time in the hospital with my father in Austin, Texas. My dad loved life and wanted to live many more years. Unfortunately, it was not to be any more than his 88 years. A hospital is a place where no one really wants to have to be there. If it is necessary to be there, it is important to come in and to leave quickly. There are observations that I would like to share. These observations will make life easier and more considerate for the patients, doctors, family, friends and caregivers.

Dr. Michael Cann, an orthopedic surgeon in La Cañada, gives some suggestions on how patients can be responsible for their own health and make it easier for the doctor and family.

Family Member: Have one designated family member be the one who communicates with the doctor and with other family members.

Doctor's Availability: A doctor's hospital schedule is unpredictable. If a family member is at the hospital with the patient and would like to see the doctor, ask a nurse to call a day ahead and give a definite time for the meeting to take place. Communicate and don't assume that anyone will know that you are waiting. When a family member would like for the doctor to call, give a definite time of availability and be available at that time

Home Medications: Avoid bringing medications from home. Always keep a small list of medications, doses, and frequency in your wallet. Put name and number of pharmacy, doctor, and emergency contact number. Let doctor know these medications. The doctor will have the medications dispensed directly to the patient at the hospital.

Instructions: Patient needs to follow instructions that the doctor has given. Read these instructions carefully, and ask questions if the instructions are not understood. Remember that the doctor has a limited time with each patient; limit the number of questions.

Responsibility: Be a responsible patient who is part of the solution.

Thank you, Dr. Cann!

General suggestions for kindness and consideration for the caregivers and family members:

Privacy: Leave the room when nurses and aides are changing and cleaning the patient. If communication with nurse or doctor is necessary, sometimes it is best to discuss options outside of the hospital room, rather than whispering as this raises patient's concerns. By law, however, the patient does have rights to know the seriousness of situation and determine his own options. Often it is beneficial for the patient to know the truth. It is his body.

Germ Protection: Sanitize your hands before and after visiting the patient's room. Bacteria can travel throughout the hospital.

Next week, I will continue with my observations that will make a patient's stay more comfortable. © Diana Olson, 2007

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