Hospital delirium can lead to permanent mental decline

Your father gets confused while in the hospital. Maybe he insists that your mother or his brother visited him that day - even though they passed away 20 or 30 years ago. Maybe he tells you all about the fishing trip he took today with his buddies - when he hasn't been fishing for years. Maybe he believes that he's in a different city and a different decade than he is actually in.

What training and certification do nurses have?

The title "registered nurse" (R.N.) may be used by people who have completed an approved nursing education program and received a diploma, a two-year associate's degree or a four-year bachelor's degree. They must pass a national nursing exam, and be licensed by the state.

What are 'assistants' in a doctor's office?

When you hear that an individual is an assistant to a professional, what image springs to mind? Someone who answers the phone and schedules appointments? Someone who takes care of other administrative tasks so that the professionals can devote their time to working directly with the customers/clients/patients? In a doctor's office, would you assume that "physician's assistant" and "medical assistant" mean the same thing?

Keep track of your assistive devices in the hospital

A few days after having one of many operations needed after a terrible automobile accident, Cheryl had severe abdominal pain. An ambulance arrived to transfer her to a larger hospital in a major city where a specialist was available to treat this complication.

Before the vehicle started out, Cheryl thought to ask its staff, "Do you have my glasses?" She wore special tri-focal glasses with several expensive features to treat an unusual combination of vision problems. The ambulance staff had the glasses and Cheryl was reassured.

Some wheelchairs hinder rather than help mobility

When Cheryl was in the hospital to treat increasingly severe medical problems, it became clear that she needed a new wheelchair. She had been using a manual wheelchair, meaning that she used her hands and arms to turn the wheels and move around as needed. That had worked for years, but now she was no longer able to propel the wheelchair herself.

Make connection between new meds, new problems

Mary Lou's new doctor sent her for a DEXA scan that showed that she had osteoporosis, with a high risk of a bone fracture if she didn't get treatment. This result was no surprise, as she had had other similar results in the past. The doctor carefully explained her treatment options. Mary Lou had previously taken a standard drug for osteoporosis and ended up with severe side effects.

Make sure your medical records are instantly available

Cheryl used to work in an emergency room (ER). It was often hard to get an accurate medical history from the patient or family members in the middle of a crisis.

Then Cheryl herself was hit by an underinsured driver in an automobile accident that she describes as "horrific," with good reason: "Only my left arm and hand weren't damaged or broken. Everything else about my body was damaged in some way."

She had more than a dozen operations, and spent the next year in the hospital.

Extreme damage to multiple parts of her body landed her permanently in a wheelchair.

Speak up when medical orders seem to conflict

Sally moved to the short-term rehab wing of a skilled nursing facility after she got out of the hospital for treatment of a badly broken leg. She reported, "My doctor had told me clearly to stay off that leg. But they kept taking me to PT. They kept making me try to walk and do exercises. Finally, I said to them, 'You need to make an appointment with my orthopedic surgeon and take me to his office for an evaluation, because this isn't working. You can't keep trying to force me to do something that he's told me he doesn't want me to do."

It's up to you to ensure you get the right care

After a home healthcare nurse alerted Joan's doctor to a problem with Joan's knee, Joan was rushed to the hospital. After she was evaluated, she was told that she had a MRSA-like infection in her lower leg, where she had already had a staph infection that required surgery and a broken bone from a fall in the shower.

Complications of care can often cascade

Joan landed in the hospital for the third time in two months after the latest in a series of complications following what had been expected to be a simple medical procedure. This time, her leg had broken in a fall at home as an aide was assisting her in getting into the shower.

She reported, "The doctor was able to set it. He put on a brace, not a cast. He said if he put a cast on, it would weigh a hundred pounds and I'd never walk again," because it would add so much weight and make Joan so lopsided.

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