Nurse Karin Berntsen shares tips to advocate for your health while in the hospital.
Ladies, I’d like to talk about things you can do once you are in the hospital. It’s very important again that you, you may be in the hospital and you may need more information, but one of the very important things is that you speak up while you are in the hospital if you have a concern.
Hospitals are actually required to have a system in place where patients can bring up their concerns and you may be interacting with your physician or your nurse on the floor and you may not be satisfied with an answer or there’s something that’s going on that you are concerned about. You can talk to them certainly; that’s always the best thing to do first. But if you feel that it’s not being resolved then there are several avenues you can take in the hospital.
Generally, upon admission you get a brochure or you get some information about speaking up about concerns. You can ask to speak to the supervisor; you can ask to speak to the Unit Manager or Director. If you have a real physician issue there is a formal structure in a hospital where you can ask to speak to another doctor or go to the chief of that department and get some more information.
The other thing when you are in the hospital that’s very important is to know and expect what is going to happen to you. If you are in for surgery, you want to get an idea of how long you need to be in the hospital. You want to know the results of your tests when you are in the hospital. If you have different x-rays or imaging studies ask about those tests.
And probably the third most important tip is make sure your healthcare providers are washing their hands. It’s important that you wash your hands in the hospital or use some kind of hand wipe or hand gel, but it’s equally as important that all the people that are coming to see you, they may be drawing blood, they may be taking tests, that may be your nurse taking care of you or your doctor – they need to wash their hands before and after they see you in the hospital.
About Karin Berntsen, R.N.:
Karin Berntsen, R.N., is the Director of Quality and Risk Management at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, California. She is also the Patient Safety Officer for the hospital. Nurse Berntsen has worked at Alvarado for more than four years, authored two books on patient safety, and believes passionately that all patients should have the best, safest care possible when they are in the hospital.