Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Plan of Action in the Event of a Crisis

It may be instructive for some readers to know that I landed in my local hospital (PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, Washington) over the summer with a compressed back fracture after a fall in my garage. I managed to avoid surgery, but the healing process has been excruciating, and ever so slow. I did manage to learn some important facts along the way, which I can pass along to you. 

1. Always be or have a strong advocate when you go through the emergency room—a typical route for accident, cardiac, burn or stroke victims.

2. Be prepared for different types of pain and discomfort. First is the pain of the original event or injury. Next, is the pain associated with medical intervention. Often that is surgery, but sometimes, other treatments cause ancillary pain. An important source of imbalance is pain medication, essential to endure the injury or medical situation.

However, over time, pain medication can produce constipation, anxiety, personality changes, agitation and other side effects, depending on the individual’s overall health and body chemistry. Another issue in the healing process is incapacitation: the inability to carry out your normal activities. In some cases, this can last for weeks at a time.

3. Be certain you or your advocate has a grasp of hospital organization, can be present for discharge and fully understands the physician’s instructions. This includes types of medicine, times to administer, dosages and warnings of potential interactions. Medical staff should also discuss the physical limitations of the patient, next doctor’s appointment, short-term home care and long-term prognosis. 

Preferably, have a second person on board who can verify the doctors’ orders—a close relative, friend or professional caregiver hired before you or your loved one come home.

If the patient has been formally admitted and spent at least three nights in the hospital, he or she may qualify for rehabilitation services. Ideally, the caregiver has already researched available facilities. If not, it’s wise to do so before release. 

Remember: Planning for a possible crisis before it happens can assist you, your loved one and your entire family to achieve a smooth transition into care—and back to wellness.

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