Going to hospital


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 pick up 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 costs 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 are required to give what is called ‘Informed Consent’. In other words, you’ll 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 are
entitled to seek a second opinion. 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 pharmacist
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 are in hospital. Ask your doctor or pharmacist
to explain why you are 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 wrist band 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. You have a fundamental right to health care
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. Healthcare 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 will treat and care for you.
Patients have responsibilities too. Amongst other things you are 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 can
not 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.
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.
When you are unwell or recovering from surgery, infection can delay your recovery and make
you feel worse. But you can minimise 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.
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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