Do you leave the hospital feeling you’re not really sure what happened to you there? Was anyone listening and responding to your concerns while you were a patient? Were you satisfied with your care and the outcome? Well, thankfully, “the times they are a-changin.”
There’s a new word you will likely hear if you’ve been a hospital patient recently: Transparency. Briefly, it’s all about open communication between health care professionals and patient/family. Hospitals, doctors and nurses have heard our outcry – that we want to be more informed consumers of our health care – and they are responding. Effective pain management, overall communication, clarity of medication orders and discharge instructions are all on the checklist of patient satisfaction. These “benchmarks,” are basic items indicating how well we are being taken care of as compared to other institutions. If hospitals are not as accountable as they should be, they’re working on it.
So, where do we patients fit into this new equation? WE ASK QUESTIONS. We ask for more information from our doctors who are performing surgery on us before we are at the hospital and on an operating room table. We ask why we’re receiving a certain medication, what side effects there may be, what the goal of medication is and if there are alternatives to traditional drugs. We ask approximately how long our hospital stay may be, questions we may have about nursing staffing and what the hospital infection rate is. And, we keep asking until we receive reasonable answers.
Most hospitals these days have a consumer/patient satisfaction form. Take a few moments and fill it out. A community hospital near me has initiated small group meetings with recently discharged patients, their family members, doctors and hospital administrators. They talk informally and really listen to each other. What a wonderful way to create positive change.
If and when you or a dear friend/family member needs hospital care, do your homework before, if at all possible. Understandably, emergencies happen. Short of that, check out your potential hospital’s transparency by asking appropriate questions. Make a list and check it twice. Be wary if there’s a reluctance to supply the information that will make you a more informed patient and more comfortable about your upcoming stay. There are no stupid questions when it comes to your health.