Going to hospital (full video)


Going into hospital can be a stressful
and anxious time for patients and their families. However with a little planning
you can make your visit as smooth and comfortable as possible. Begin by
thinking about how you will get there, avoid driving yourself if possible,
consider booking a taxi or asking a friend or relative to take you there.
It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the hospital’s parking areas and
nearest set down and pickup points. You’ll also need to think about what to
bring. Make a list and tick off items as you pack include living aids like
glasses and dentures, your regular medications, x-rays or scans you’ll need
and of course your Medicare card. If you have private health insurance make sure
you bring details of your cover. If you have private health insurance you can
choose to be treated as a private patient. Private patients can sometimes
choose which doctor treats them in a public hospital. Private patients health
insurance will cover the cost of medical services accommodation and other related costs. Some procedures will require you to fast or eat only certain foods before
coming to hospital. Make sure you contact the hospital beforehand so you know of
any special preparation you’ll need to undertake before coming to hospital. Let
someone know if you have difficulty speaking or understanding English
because you can ask for an interpreter. It’s best not to rely on family members
for interpreting on medical matters. Most hospitals provide or have access to a
free interpreter service. When it comes to having an operation or
test, especially one that may involve risk, you’re required to give what is
called informed consent. In other words you need to agree to the procedure or
treatment suggested by your doctor for your medical condition. To provide this
consent you must be fully informed of your treatment options including the
expected outcomes, risks and benefits, and known complications of each so that you
can decide which treatment is best for you. Your doctor or health professional
should discuss all options with you, even the option of doing nothing at all.
Remember you’re entitled to seek a second opinion. Managing your medication safely at home
and in hospital is vital for your health. It needn’t be difficult but mistakes can
happen when medicines are prescribed, given or taken incorrectly. It’s
important that you know what medicines you take and why you take them. Managing your medicines safely in hospital means speaking up about your medicines, asking
questions if you’re unsure about your medicines, finding out about what your
medicines are for, discussing options with your doctor and making sure you
understand how to take your medicines. It’s really important that you keep
track of your medications. Medicines are usually prescribed by a doctor, nurse
practitioner or pharmacist. They can be bought at your local pharmacy,
supermarket or health food store and include complementary medicines like
vitamins and nutritional supplements and natural or herbal remedies. Medicines may be tablets, capsules or liquids, patches, creams and ointments, drops and sprays
for eyes, nose, ears and mouth, inhalers and puffers, injections, implants,
pessaries and suppositories. When you are admitted to hospital you should advise
hospital staff of all your medicines by bringing all of your medicines with you.
Also bring a list of every medication you’re currently taking and show them to
your doctor and pharmacist. Your GP or community pharmacists can help. Your
hospital doctor and pharmacist will particularly need to know about any
recent changes to your medications including any medicines you have
recently started taking, medicines you have recently stopped taking and changes in how much or how often you use the medicine. Your doctor and pharmacist will also need to know if you have had any problems with medicines in the past. This
might be an allergic or bad reaction to a medicine or difficulty swallowing
medicines. Your medications may change while you’re in hospital. Ask your doctor
or pharmacist to explain why you’re being given particular medications, their
possible side effects and whether they can be taken safely with your other
medications. Tell staff straight away if you are feeling
unwell after taking any medicine. Make sure that staff have checked your
wristband identification before you are given any medications to ensure the
medicines are prescribed for you. If you think you should have received some
medications, or the medications appear different, ask. When you’re ready to go
home, have the doctor, nurse or pharmacist go over each medication with you
or a family member or friend. Ensure your own medicines are returned to you if you
still need them. Before you leave, ask your pharmacist if you should stop or
restart any medicines you were taking at home. If you have received new medicines or a dose has changed for a medicine you were previously taking make sure you
receive a new prescription or supply to take home. Unless you have been given
other instructions by your health professional in hospital, make an
appointment to see your GP within two weeks of going home to discuss your
ongoing medicine needs. Taking your medicines at the right time and at the
right dose is essential. If you have trouble keeping track of your medicines,
there are aids that can help like a dossette box. Ask your pharmacist for advice. Health professionals are available in hospital and in the community to help
you manage your medicines safely. While you’re in hospital your doctor,
pharmacist and nurse are all available to help you. When you get home, you can
call on your GP or local doctor, your community pharmacist, a nurse
practitioner or family members or carers. You can consider all these people part
of your support network to help you keep track of your medicines. You have a fundamental right to
healthcare that is respectful, responsive, safe and effective. Likewise you have an
obligation to treat staff and other patients with respect and to provide
your health practitioner with all relevant health information. Health care
professionals have a duty to treat you respectfully, listen to your concerns,
answer your questions clearly and honestly and inform and educate you
about your illness. Just as doctors and nurses and hospital
staff should respect you, showing respect back to them makes for a more pleasant
hospital experience both for you and those who’ll treat and care for you.
Patients have responsibilities too. Amongst other things, you’re obliged to
provide your health provider with all relevant health information including
your medical history and all medicines you are currently taking.
You must also advise staff of any change in your condition or problems with your
treatment. Every hospital has a process that enables patients to provide
comments about the quality of health care they receive including complaints
and compliments. You can learn more about this process by contacting a staff
member on your ward or the manager of the hospital’s customer liaison
department. Personal information is recorded about
every patient who attends a hospital in Western Australia. This information is
coded to protect your privacy and sent to the Western Australian Department of
Health. Various legal acts and regulations authorise the Department to
collect certain information about you. This can include information about your
birth, your giving birth or undergoing an assisted reproductive procedure. It can
also include a diagnosis of cancer or communicable disease or treatment for a
mental illness. The information is used only for research planning or service
improvement and you cannot be identified from this information. You have the right
to view personal information about you that is held by the Department to access
your health record. You should apply in writing to the hospital or community
health service that you have attended. Before commencing any medical procedure, your clinical team will confirm with you your identity, the procedure you are
having and the site on your body at which the procedure is being performed.
Following surgery it’s important to take good care of yourself to give yourself
the best chance of a quick recovery. When you are unwell or recovering from
surgery, infection can delay your recovery and make you feel worse but you
can minimize your risk of developing infection by avoiding close contact with
anybody who has an infection and asking people not to visit if they are unwell.
If you have an open wound, follow instructions about treatment and care
closely and wash your hands thoroughly and regularly. Always cover your mouth
and nose when coughing or sneezing and wash your hands immediately. Minimise
your risk of a fall after surgery by wearing appropriate clothing and
footwear, getting up slowly after sitting or lying down, having glasses and walking
aids within easy reach, drinking plenty of fluids and familiarising yourself
with your surroundings. Pressure injuries can be a nasty post-surgery complication
and can develop quickly if any part of the body is subject to constant and
unrelieved pressure. Pressure injuries can blister, break and become ulcerated.
They can also be painful, take a long time to heal and hamper your movement.
You can take steps to minimise your risk of developing pressure injuries
including maintaining good posture when sitting, changing body position often
when lying in bed, using special equipment to alleviate pressure, checking
your skin regularly for signs of redness or blistering, using only mild soap when
bathing and moisturising your skin well. You may be given special dressings to
protect existing or potential pressure areas. Before you leave hospital, make
sure you are given a discharge summary about your diagnosis and treatment from
your doctor. You should also check that a copy of the summary is sent to your GP
as it will help them to manage your ongoing health care when you’re ready to
go home. Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to
run through each medication with you. If any of your medications change or new
ones are added remember to update your medication list when you get home.
Emotional and lifestyle adjustments are common after serious illness or major
surgery so you needn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if you’re depressed or having
trouble coping. You may find it helpful to talk to somebody like a friend, health
professional or patient support group. Contact your GP immediately if you have
any concerns about your condition after leaving hospital.

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