Hospital workers are understaffed and over worked. Can you tell if your loved ones are getting proper care, or are they falling through the cracks and being neglected?
Having a friend or loved one in the hospital places them in a vulnerable position. Let’s face it, if the patient were healthy she wouldn’t be in the hospital. It is up to you and your family to be the patient advocate to make sure the patient is getting proper patient care. It’s up to you to investigate and detect if signs of neglect are present.
There are telltale signs of improper care. Here are a few things to look out for when it comes to ensuring adequate care for your loved one:
Patient Bed Sores
Bedsores result from inadequate patient movement. Unfortunately, sometimes the ability to shift a patient’s bed position is limited due to medical devices, tubes and the like, but if bedsores do develop, talk with the staff on how to minimize and their occurrence.
If the patient does not have movement limitations, there is no reason other than neglect that bedsores should develop.
Use Your Senses
Use your nose to help determine signs of neglect. Although hospital smells are not appealing, you will quickly recognize which smells are normal hospital smells and which ones are not. Your sense of smell will help you to quickly determine if your loved one is getting the proper care in being bathed and cleaned regularly.
Look around to see if things don’t look right and most of all, listen. Listen to the hospital sounds. If there is much yelling, arguing or disgruntled employees, it’s a clue. Heed these clues and do something about it.
Examine the Linen
Most hospital and nursing home staff is fastidious when it comes to providing clean linen. If you notice your loved one is lying on soiled linen and it has been that way for an extended period of time, it’s time for you to get involved.
Patient Dehydration and Hunger
Be careful with this one. If your loved one is refusing food and drink, that is not neglect. However, if they are complaining about thirst and hunger, stay around for a while. Don’t leave until after a meal is served. Check to see if the food is adequate and balanced.
Because hospital food is not a culinary delight, make sure to differentiate between bad tasting food and inadequate amounts of food. If your loved one is allowed to eat food from the outside (check with the doctor first), you might resolve this issue by brining healthy meals from the outside.
Talk to the staff
If they are overworked, harried, impatient and generally unhappy, there is a possibility that their workload precludes them from providing adequate patient care.
Trust Your Instincts
Too many times people do not take their own instincts seriously. If you have a gut feeling that things aren’t going right, more times than not, your gut is correct. Seek help.
A few tips:
Since visitors inadvertently become patient advocates, coordinate visitation so that the hospital staff and nurses are aware that your loved one has friends/family who care about her well being and are willing to do what it takes to ensure proper patient care.
If you suspect hospital neglect, speak to the staff. Additionally, since originally writing this article in 2007, there has been an increase in online patient advocate services. Before contacting the Consumer Services Department of your state’s Attorney General’s Office, visit a few of the online patient advocate sites such as Patient Advocate Foundation. They provide a host of information that may be useful in resolving your patient care dilemma.