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Patient Checklist for Your Hospital Stay

Advice on how to prepare and be a proactive patient

4. Make cleanliness in your room a priority.

  • Hospital rooms are really dirty, period. Three-quarters of patients' rooms are contaminated with bacteria that can cause staph infections. Use disinfectant wipes on "high-contact surfaces" that you might touch — the rolling table surface, chair armrests, bed railings, the phone, the call button and the TV remote. These are the things that are often overlooked by the janitorial staff. Disinfectant wipes are available on every hospital floor and your aide can probably help you with small tasks like this.
  • If your room is really dirty, ask for someone from the hospital's "environmental services" to come clean it.

5. Consider whether a visit from your pastor, priest, minister, imam, rabbi, shaman, guru, monk or any other type of spiritual counselor will offer you solace, support and guidance.

6. Create a master medication list — use the notebook you have brought.

  • Keep a numbered list that includes drug name, prescribing physician, schedule with dosages, what day you started and stopped and why you are taking every drug, for example, "blood pressure." This list will be the record of ALL medications you are prescribed during your stay and can be used to check against hospital and insurance bills.
  • Your nurse can help "translate" instructions and abbreviations into plain language so that you understand exactly what is going into your body and why.

7.  Know your daily medication schedule: medication mix-ups can be deadly. Your hospital bracelet should be checked each time you are given any medication.

  • Nurses learn the "5 Rights" checklist for safe medication. You can use it, too, every single time you are given any medication by reviewing these "5 Rights": the right time/schedule, right drug, right dosage, right route (i.e. injection, IV, oral, topical) and the right patient — you! Speak up if something seems wrong to you.

Next: Washing your hands may save your life. >>

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