Editor’s comments: We provided this in the spirit that it was supplied. Hospital staffs are doing heroic work. Listen to the professionals. We suggest using the ideas below to help ease communication. Most hospitals are shutting down any visits to COVID-19 patients. Listen. Stay calm. Communicate thoughtfully.
The more you know, the less anxiety you may feel. This is a good check list.
“”The entire world is working right now to assist everyone who is battling COVID. This is no easy task, and it has resulted in bottlenecked hospitals with patients families rushing to see their loved ones. Overcrowded hospitals are all too common now, and while hospitals are working their best, patients are now often finding that they are having trouble getting to see their loved ones.
Kay Van Wey, who’s thirty years of practice have awarded her with such accolades as Best Lawyers in America 2020 for Medical Malpractice Law, is sharing below her top tips for navigating these busy hospitals, working with the doctors and staff, and getting to spend the valuable time with your loved ones.”
- FIND OUT WHO THE QUARTERBACK IS. Oftentimes, there will be many doctors and nurses coming in and out of the room and it can be difficult to know who is in charge. Oftentimes, this is a physician known as a “hospitalist” but be sure to specifically ask WHO is THE Doctor in charge of coordinating the patient’s care, especially now that resources are stretched so thin.
- GET IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS. Ask the doctor in charge if you may have their cell phone number and promise that you won’t abuse the privilege. In today’s day and age, this is the most expedient and efficient way to communicate (via text usually) critical and urgent information. Please don’t abuse the doctor, but try and have this “break glass in case of emergency” tool at your disposal if you should need it! Also be sure you have the phone number directly to the nurse’s station programmed into your phone.
- PUT YOUR NUMBER ON THE WHITE BOARD. Ask the nurses to write your cell phone on the whiteboard in the patient’s room with the note and reminder that anytime a doctor comes into the room, to please call and preferably facetime you.
- GIVE YOUR LOVED ONE A CELL PHONE. If they are lucid and able to speak, make sure your family member has a way to contact you at all times. Also, make sure they know to facetime you any time a doctor comes into the room so you can participate in the conversation and ask appropriate questions.
- STAY UP TO DATE ON CHANGES IN CONDITION. Ask the nurses to call, or preferably facetime you, anytime there is a change of condition, change of medication, new test ordered, new test results received, etc.
- STAY INVOLVED WITH SHIFT CHANGES. Ask that you be called for every nurse shift change. This is an important time to get a brief update on significant things that happened during that nurse’s shift and to make sure that as the shifts change, there is a proper “handoff communication” between them. This way you can intervene if they say something that you know is incorrect. For example, “based on the fact that your blood thinner medication was discontinued by the ER doctor….” when in fact you know it was not!!!
- KEEP A DIARY. Communication is a huge problem between the various healthcare workers. It is very common for there to be lapses in significant medical history, medications, etc. Keep documentation of all changes in condition, medication, prognosis, and anything you feel is important to make sure doctors and nurses are treating your loved one with the correct information.
- KNOW IF THE PATIENT HAS BEEN DEEMED A FALL RISK. Many patients are at risk for falling in the hospital for a variety of reasons. The best thing to do for your loved one is to check that bed alarms are working, the nurse call button is working, and to ask about how your loved one is being monitored. Also, be sure your loved one knows that, if they don’t get a response quickly from the nurses, to NEVER try to get up on their own if they have been placed on fall risk precautions. Serious injuries from broken hips to brain bleeds and death happen because of hospital falls.
- KNOW THE TURN SCHEDULE. If your loved one is immobile and unable to turn or re-position themselves in bed, find out what the turn schedule is (example every two hours) and set an alarm and call your loved one or the nurse to make sure they are turned. This is important to prevent pressure and decubitus ulcers.
- GOOGLE CHECKLISTS. Checklists are a great way to keep track of your loved one’s complicated condition. For instance, if your loved one is in congestive heart failure, they need to be weighed everyday. If their weight increases, this may signal danger! Checklists are one way to keep track of these details to help with your loved one’s care.
NOTE: LET’S GIVE NURSES AND DOCTORS A LOT OF GRACE RIGHT NOW! THEY ARE STRETCHED THIN, THEY ARE LIKELY EXHAUSTED AND THEY PROBABLY ARE DOING THEIR BEST, BUT NOW MORE THAN EVER, YOU MUST BE AN ADVOCATE FOR YOUR LOVED ONE’S SAFETY!
Bio: Kay Van Wey is a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer with over 30 years of experience. She’s been named Texas Super Lawyer by her peers for 15 consecutive years and was voted a D Magazine Best Personal Injury Lawyer in 2016 and 2018.