Hospital Stays

This is part of my on-going series of posts on Health Care for Christian Scientists & Former Christian Scientists.

Please remember, this is intended to offer people support, ideas, and resources. It is not in any way intended to be a substitute for medical advice or care. Please see a health care professional if you have concerns, especially if your concern is serious!


This list is a very basic overview and much of this may be more or less correct depending on what you are in for. 

If something is wrong to the point of needing to go to the hospital … CALL AN AMBULANCE, they will know the appropriate hospital to take you to and can help provide the hospital with better background/technical information. 

Use your best judgement. There are exceptions, like scheduled surgeries, or if you’ve already called your Primary Care Physician but it is an evening/weekend and they’re not available and they recommend getting seen sooner in which case they will likely recommend a hospital.

While in the hospital IT IS OKAY TO ASK QUESTIONS and write things down to help you remember.


Admittance

  • If you’re admitted through the Emergency Room, you might have to stay there for several hours until a bed is available. The sickest patients go to ICU, which provides the highest level of monitoring and the lowest nurse to patient ratio. If your condition does not rise to ICU-level but your heart needs constant monitoring, you’ll end up in Telemetry. Most people will go to medical/surgical wards, which care for a wider range of patients.
  • If you’re being admitted for a scheduled surgery, you may be asked to come in a few days before so they may draw blood, and fill out paperwork. You will likely then be given further instructions as your condition warrants.

Care Team

  • In most hospitals, an internal medicine doctor will be overseeing your care. If you’ve had surgery, your surgeon will be visiting daily to check on your progress. If you are there because of pregnancy, your obgyn (and in some cases the accompanying midwife) will be overseeing your care.
  • Your care team will consist of a charge nurse (RN), a nurse (RN), and, generally, a certified nursing assistant (CNA).
  • The nursing team is usually in place for an eight or twelve-hour shift (this varies by hospital location). At the shift change, the RN who is finishing his or her shift will go over your case with the RN who will be taking the next shift – you can request they do this with you present so that you can be kept informed and. At that time, the new care team will introduce themselves to you.
  • Do not hesitate to ASK QUESTIONS about the daily routine, upcoming procedures, tests, blood draws, etc. Do not hesitate to press the call button should you need help. Nurses are not servants: they are highly-trained professionals who may well save your life—especially if your physician makes a mistake.
  • While you shouldn’t hesitate to use the call light if you need to, overuse unfortunately can cause some staff to ignore your room or take extra time in getting to you, and may warn the next shift that you are trigger happy with the call button. So definitely use it, but in moderation.

Visitors

  • Visiting hours are not always strictly enforced. It may be possible for you to have a friend or family member stay with you 24/7.
  • You may also ask NOT to receive any visitors, &/or not allow certain people to visit you.

Routine

  • Don’t expect to get uninterrupted sleep during your stay. If you’re not already being awakened by all the poking and prodding on the agenda, know that infusion pumps—yours or your neighbors’—will be beeping at any and all times.
  • Your CNA will drop by regularly to check your vital signs, and a phlebotomist may drop by every morning to draw blood (if so it will likely be around 5 am so that the tests can be run before the doctors show up). If one of your arms is off-limits to pressure or puncture, ask the staff to place a sign to this effect over your bed. Speak up if someone starts to go for it anyway, and remind them of the proper arm to use for blood pressure and blood draws.
  • If you’re receiving any medication, the nurse will scan your hospital bracelet and ask you to verify your name and date of birth. This is to be sure that you are receiving the proper drugs.
  • If you’re given a new medication, the nurse should thoroughly explain what the medicine does, when you’ll receive your doses, and any side effects to watch for.
  • Hospital food tends to range from the palatable to the vile. Always check to make sure that the food you’ve been served conforms to any dietary restrictions you have.

Pain

  • If your pain is controlled, you will heal more quickly. Be honest when a physician or nurse asks your pain level. Doctors and nurses are serious when they say that they want your pain managed. And no, you will not end up at Betty Ford after a few days on Vicodin.
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding make sure the doctors are aware of that (they likely already are). If you are concerned about milk supply or the drugs and the baby, ask to speak with the hospital lactation consultant, and talk to your doctor about your concerns.

Watch For

  • Hygiene. Anyone who enters your room needs to thoroughly wash his or her hands, and glove up if they’re going to touch you. You so do not want to go home with an infection, or, worse, get a bug so serious that you never leave the hospital. You should also wash your hands every time you touch anything in the room to be safe.
  • Appropriate ID. Everyone who comes into your room should be wearing some form of official hospital identification. It is always alright to ask a person’s name and what they will be doing.

Discharge

  • A day or so before your release date, a discharge planner –usually a RN—will speak to you. He or she will make sure that you have a ride home, and will arrange for any home care that you’ll require. You may also get a call from a hospitalist within a day or two after your discharge to check on your recovery, and to go over any medications you’ve been prescribed.

Other things to remember

  • If you know you will be admitted past the ER, bring toiletries. Your lotion and shampoo are probably 10x better than the hospitals.

More reading


Huge thanks to everyone who contributed to make this post possible!

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