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5 Strategies To Keep Your Loved Ones Safe in the Hospital

Published on Jun 4, 2024 by Thomas Law Offices.

5 Strategies To Keep Your Loved Ones Safe in the Hospital

According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as many as 35.5 million hospitalizations occur in the United States annually.

Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) comparing hospitalization rates among 1-64-year-olds between 2009 and 2018 shows that just 5.2% of Americans in that age range were hospitalized in that latter year, a 0.7% decrease over the earlier year.

You always hear to be cautious when admitted to the hospital because some people come out worse than when they went in. So, we’ve compiled a list of five strategies to keep your loved ones safe in the hospital, so they don’t face the same fate that others tell horror stories or worry about.

Tip #1: Monitor the Administration of Your Loved One’s Medications

Be informed about medications they’re being prescribed. Go as far as researching them to make sure that:

  • It appears appropriate for the condition your loved one has been diagnosed with
  • The dosage seems reasonable
  • It’s not contraindicated, given another diagnosis they’ve received
  • There’s no indication that it and another medication they’re taking may lead to a drug interaction

One of the risks of being treated at hospitals is that individuals are often admitted on an emergency basis and may be incapacitated in some way. This means that they may not be able to relay their health history, prescription drugs that they’re already on, allergies, and other details.

The danger associated with this is that a patient may be prescribed a medication that isn’t safe for them.

Sometimes, the interaction may not be evident until there’s an adverse reaction or irreversible harm is done.

Tip #2: Speak Up and Ask Questions Often

Another study published by the NIH outlines how as many as 251,000 patients lose their lives due to preventable mistakes each year in the U.S.  Other research available through the NIH details how at least 27% of medical malpractice cases stem from miscommunication.

Instructing a loved one to call attention to potentially concerning situations, no matter whether it centers around one of the following or something else, can make the difference between whether a loved one’s health condition improves so they can leave the hospital, or they get transported to the morgue instead:

  • Under or overmedication
  • Patient neglect, which could lead to dehydration or falls, for example
  • Insufficient recordkeeping regarding diagnoses, treatment plans, medication administration, patient check-ins, etc.
  • Inadequate training or supervision of staff
  • Suspicious individuals roaming the halls or entering patient rooms

Tip #3: Practice Good Hygiene (and Request That Others Do the Same)

Hospitalized patients (and even their visitors) may have been diagnosed with all types of health conditions, many of which could be contagious. Patients are at a significant risk for hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), which, as described by the NIH, may include urinary tract infections from catheter insertion and use, pneumonia, Clostridium difficile, and others.

It’s best to not only practice good hygiene, which should always include washing your hands but also potentially wearing a mask around a loved one who is immunocompromised or who has an infectious disease so you don’t get anything or spread something to someone else.

However, you must demand that hospital workers, doctors included, do the same if they’re not already doing so. It’s also critical that you call it to their attention if you notice something unsanitary in the room, like countertops, bed linens, the bathroom, etc., and demand that it be cleaned.

Doing so could make a difference in terms of patient outcomes.

Tip #4: Be Present and Show That the Patient Is Cared About

While it can go a long way for you to encourage the patient to advocate for themselves and for you to do the same for them, what’s happening during the hours you’re not there?

You don’t want to overwhelm your loved one with too many visitors, as that can cause them anxiety and slow their healing. However, you also don’t want to just come in sparingly, check on them, and leave them to fend for themselves all other times.

Building a “brigade” of other family members and friends that can stop in and check on your loved one not only may lift their spirits but also send a message to staff that there are a lot of people who care about your family member.

Additionally, encouraging those who cannot personally visit to send a card, flowers, balloons, or other items to lift the patient’s spirits is something hospital staff notice and could potentially encourage them to take better care of their relative or close friend.

Tip #5: Closely Check Out the Hospital Room Your Loved One Is Placed In

From the risk of contracting an infection or falling or something else, your loved one isn’t necessarily safe even when they’re confined to a private hospital room.

That’s why we’d recommend assessing for the following when you visit that first and every subsequent time:

  • Access to your loved one’s room is adequately monitored
  • How clean everything appears to be, including bed linens, tray tables, remote controls, door handles, toilet seats, bath towels, etc.
  • The temperature in the room is set at a desirable level, and there are adequate pillows or blankets to keep them comfortable
  • Whether a bedrail is lifted, handrails are secure in place, and call buttons are easily accessible and working

Where To Get Help if Someone Failed To Protect Your Loved One in a Hospital

We hope that the five strategies we’ve shared for keeping your loved ones safe in a hospital will keep them problem-free so they can quickly get better and return home to you.

However, if a doctor or a hospital employee, such as a nurse, phlebotomist, respiratory tech, etc., failed to confirm your loved one’s identity before administering medications or performing testing.

Or if they neglected to check on your loved one at regular intervals, respond to calls for help, or did something else that, had it been handled differently, your relative wouldn’t have experienced health setbacks or lost their life; you should consider speaking with a medical malpractice attorney in Chicago.

At Thomas Law Offices, our lawyers have decades of combined experience in representing patients who suffered preventable harm when being cared for by negligent medical professionals. We want to be your advocate so you get justice for what happened to you or your close loved one so that there’s less of a chance of the same happening to someone else.

Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.

 

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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