How to Advocate for a Loved One in the Hospital
Being a patient in the hospital is often scary and overwhelming. It’s easy to be confused by medical jargon. A patient’s family member or trusted friend can help make the experience less stressful and intimidating by being an advocate for them.
Being an advocate for a loved one in the hospital means helping them communicate effectively with the medical team. Medical professionals sometimes make mistakes, so watching to ensure your friend or family member gets the best care is also a key part of advocating for them.
If your loved one was harmed because of negligence on the part of a doctor, nurse, or hospital, our Birmingham medical malpractice attorneys are here to help.
How Can I Be an Advocate for My Loved One?
There are several ways to advocate for a loved one in the hospital.
Good communication is key to ensuring both you and your loved one understand their condition and the treatment. While doctors, nurses, and other staff do their best to inform patients and explain things, it’s easy for a non-specialist to be confused and overwhelmed.
Whether it’s your spouse, parent, another family member, or a friend in the hospital, you know them better than the medical team. If you notice they seem confused or are too afraid or shocked to process what is being said, speak up for them.
Ask questions if you have concerns about medication side effects or wonder if a test needs to be done for example.
If it’s a sudden illness or pain, you can help doctors in emergency situations by describing how your loved one is normally and how the unknown condition is affecting them. Tell the doctors about any health conditions your loved one has and any medications they take.
If a health condition is chronic, keep track of details about the illness, how it’s impacted your loved one, medications and treatments, what tests or appointments are coming up, etc. Not only does this ease the burden on your loved one, it also makes you more prepared to discuss your loved one’s health and care with doctors.
If your loved one is hurt in an accident and someone else was at fault, detailed records of their injuries and treatment will be important for proving damages in a compensation claim.
The Visiting Nurse Service of New York recommends using a notebook along with business cards to keep track of members of your loved one’s care team. Write down the names of attending doctors, nurses, and any specialists as well as any medications in the notebook.
Note identifying features on the back of each team member’s business card.
Speak Up If an Interaction Isn’t Going Well
Doctors have inside knowledge and authority in the hospital setting. They prescribe medications, care for patients, and recommend the course of treatment, etc.
Some patients find it intimidating to ask a doctor questions or voice concerns about what the doctor recommends. If you feel that an interaction with a physician isn’t going well, speak up. Many times, the atmosphere changes for the better once the care team knows you or your family member are uncomfortable or have lingering questions.
Communicate Your Family Member’s Wishes
Having a conversation about your family member’s wishes regarding end-of-life care is scary and difficult, but it’s incredibly important. Making medical decisions for a family member is more stressful if you have never talked about what they want.
Medical teams can act in keeping with your loved one’s wishes if those wishes are documented well in advance.
Be on the Lookout for Mistakes
Medication errors can happen. Make sure that all medical personnel know about any side effects or allergies your loved one has experienced to common drugs. Make a list of all medications your loved one is taking, as well as dosing information and schedules.
You should note any new medication, how long your loved one needs to take it, and what side effects to watch out for.
Contact Our Birmingham Medical Malpractice Lawyers
By being an advocate for a loved one in the hospital, you can improve the overall care and comfort of your loved one, and help physicians and nurses do their jobs better. Medical professionals are human and sometimes make mistakes.
If you feel that your loved one didn’t receive the appropriate standard of care, call our Birmingham medical malpractice lawyers at 800-568-5330 today for a free consultation.
For more than 130 years, Hare Wynn has been representing clients injured due to other’s negligence. We have won numerous multi-million dollar jury verdicts and settlements.