Medical Emergencies, Emergency Rooms, Hospitals: Getting Optimal Care

Follow-up to yesterday’s post: U.S. News & World Report 2013-14 Best Hospitals. 

Had I been able to be proactive (instead of at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon without Wi Fi or cell capability) this “Best Hospitals” information would have been posted, as close as possible to the day the magazine came out in July. Because of the time lapse, I was able to watch this CBS News broadcast video (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57594022/u.s-news-and-world-report-releases-2013-best-hospitals-list/.

The video’s specific information, imparted by Dr. Jon Pook in the interview, was the best–spontaneous, personalized, current and instructive. Dr. Pook is a doctor at at NY-Presbyterian/Columbia U. Medical Center and chief medical correspondent for CBS news.

I learned from his discussion, how to get optimal hospital care. For example, he elaborates on the importance of communication needing to be “a good hand-off” between the patient’s regular doctor and the hospital’s doctor or the hospitalist, comparing it to the passing of the baton in a relay. He calls attention to basic, but critical, things like hand-washing that “could save your life” and tells you what to be on the lookout for. Dr. Pook uses the term “electronic healthcare buddy.” It was new to me, but made so much sense that I, for one, am glad to know about this option.

Take a five minutes and watch the video. You too will be glad.

Aging: Life Can Change in an Instant. Are We Prepared? cont. 7 “To-Do’s”

RHW’s wife, in essence, had neither control nor a Plan B.  She stepped back, relying on her husband’s good judgment, accepting the fact that he was going to consult one other specialist, then proceed as he thought best. All worked out well, but not without stress and worry. A pre-thought-out/pre-discussed plan for such emergencies would have–no doubt– made decisions easier.

Perhaps businesses do better in this regard when they require employees’ emergency information and keep it on file. A friend’s sister, (a widow on Medicare) had a seizure while at work. Her first ever seizure. 911 was called immediately and she was taken to the nearest hospital for stabilization and evaluation.

What about her emergency information? She listed just one person to call in an emergency. A MISTAKE– list at least 3 people if possible. 1st person was her adult son, a teacher. He couldn’t be reached–his class was on a field trip, scheduled to return after school hours. Her granddaughter (from another country) was in the US for the summer, working nearby; she was young; clueless about making health care decisions. The initial major decision: which (of 3) hospitals’ neurological centers should her grandmother be taken to. Evidently 911 responders made the decision. Several hours later the adult son made the decision to have his mother  transferred to a different hospital for further treatment. It was a good decision, made under tough circumstances.

7 “To-Do’s” can help us prepare as well as possible 

1.  Make time to sit down with aging parents, discuss and prioritize whom to put on an emergency contact list, their relationship or reason for being on the list. Include a person knowledgeable about healthcare management in the event others on the list aren’t available. Know what hospital(s) they prefer–or their doctors are affiliated with–should there be an emergency.

2. Make the contact list (3 people). Keep it in an easy-to-find place. 

3. Two additional lists–medications (dosage and frequency) as well as list of allergies and medical issues–keep with the contact list.

4. If parents have a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) directive, it’s essential that 911 responders (if called) have–or can easily find– the DNR (otherwise they must do all they can to save a life).

5.  When elders have a good mind and want to participate in–or dictate– actions taken for their care, we need to ask ourselves “what’s the goal” (as did RHW’s wife); then decide how involved we need to be.

6. For elders still working, it’s important that their emergency contact information at work stays updated.

7. US News’ Best Hospitals yearly publication in July is an invaluable resource and good conversation-starter. This link from CBS News about the 2013-2014 publication contains a video with excellent additional advice–including having an “electronic healthcare buddy.” Don’t miss it. 

Yet, with our busy lives, will we set aside time for the 7 to-do’s? We know, intellectually, that being prepared saves time. In our situations it can help parents age well–or at least better–and save us some additional stress