A trip to the emergency room can catch anyone of guard. However, it is crucial to be prepared for even this type of scenario. The Colleran Firm reports that, “emergency room errors may be caused by doctors’ fatigue, poor decisions, and overcrowding…The consequences are serious: delays in treatment, inappropriate diagnostic testing, medication errors, and failure to call in specialists (among other errors) can all lead to a patient’s injury or death.” Knowing this, it is important to know what to do if there is a medical emergency. Knowing what to expect can help you better understand the chaos in an emergency room. Being prepared before you are taken to an emergency room can prove to be just as important.
Keep things handy: Whether it is for you or your loved ones, you need to keep emergency contact numbers handy. Save the contact details of the nearby hospital or doctor on your cell phone. You can also consider keeping an emergency contact number on the lock screen of the phone itself. This would mean that you can make a call to the emergency contact even when your phone is locked. You can save important medical information in your mobile phone or in just any other form you want. Information regarding diabetes, allergies, and the medicines you take should always be kept handy in case of an emergency. In case of an accident, people often do not remember such details. That is the reason you should make it a point to carry important documents digitally or as hard copies. The information list that you keep should also contain important facts like allergies and ailments.
Speak up about your ailments and repeat yourself: If you ever fall victim to an emergency situation, you should communicate and speak up as much as possible with the doctors and caregivers. You must make sure that they understand the exact problems you are in. If possible, relay the same information to all the caregivers who come to treat you. Do not assume that if you have told a particular thing to the nurse, the doctor will surely know it too. Repeat, repeat, repeat to help avoid medical malpractice. You must provide a clear picture of your health condition before the doctors make any decisions about your care.
Give Information and ask for information:You must remember that a lot of cases of medical malpractice occur due to improper, delayed, or incorrect diagnosis of health problems. Do not hold any sensitive issue from the doctor who is treating you. When you are prescribed any medicine, you need to ask which medicine you need to take for what problem and when. You should also ask when to follow up. Do not be hesitant to question emergency room staff and doctors until you are completely clear, and understand all details.
Plan ahead: Know what your payment method will be ahead of time. It is important to keep credit cards handy in case you must rush out the door. This way you are able to pay for any emergency related medical costs using these cards at a medical facility. Keep a change of clothes and other essentials in a bag nearby for unexpected overnight stays.
Medical emergencies are scary and usually unexpected experiences. You may not always be able to avoid them, but there are a number of things that you can do better handle a crisis situation.
Medicine is first and foremost a hard science. Laboratory research, measurable data, and the search for objective truths are what makes treatments actually work. Scientists experiment to develop drugs and other treatments that keep folks alive and well. Patients would not be able to trust their doctors and nurses if medicine were based on hunches and gut feelings. Doctors and nurses are scientists and technicians, and they need to get things right.
There’s a problem, though. Medicine treats people. And people are complicated. When medicine ignores the human element, things go haywire. Patients get confused. They get hurt. They get angry. Doctors and nurses need to be able to communicate their messages effectively if patients are going to be able to take care of themselves.
Over the past two decades, a growing movement has been calling for the medical fields to take some hints from their dreamy distant relatives over in the humanities. This movement (which includes doctors like Atul Gawande and Rita Charon, as well as writers like Eula Biss and the late Susan Sontag) aims to improve patient care by focusing on the things medical professionals don’t always learn in school: empathy, clear writing, ethical literacy, and more. As hospitals become more and more automated, this need becomes even greater. Our increasingly digital health care already leaves patients feeling alienated, and medical professionals need to work hard to bridge that gap.
What’s in it for the Patient?
Does it seem far-fetched to suggest that surgeons brush up on their Shakespeare? You might be surprised. Physicians who study the arts in addition to science have better understanding of patient-centered care. These doctors can relate to their patients better and thus tailor their messages to suit the situation. Patients often need to complete complex self- care plans after they get out of the hospital; doctors who understand their patients’ points of view will be better equipped to communicate those plans in plain language. Patients who understand a doctor’s orders will obviously have an easier time following doctor’s orders.
One common approach to closing communication gaps is called “narrative medicine.” Narrative medicine attempts to teach medics how to “treat the whole person.” A patient suffering from a terminal, chronic disease is more than a bunch of data points on a chart; a patient is a human being going through an intense and confusing experience. According to narrative approaches to medicine, physicians who look beyond the test results in order to get a more complete picture of the patient will do a better job of educating and treating the patient.
What’s in it for the Medical Professionals?
So what exactly can fiction and pretty pictures do for a hard working doctor? In addition to improved patient care, medics can get a lot out of creative endeavors. Doctors report that writing and reading provide stress relief, greater closeness to their patients and coworkers, and profound philosophical understanding of their lives. Doctors and nurses have ethically complex and emotionally taxing careers; art and literature give them a powerful tool for exploring their personal issues in a safe environment. In short, the humanities can provide medics with that ever-elusive but essential thing: meaning.
A medical malpractice case can be based on the failure of the healthcare worker to warn a patient of known risks of a procedure or a course of treatment. The law imposes upon physicians and other healthcare workers a duty to secure informed consent from a patient before going forward with a procedure or course of treatment. An Indiana medical malpractice attorney explains that if after being informed of the risks the patient would not have chosen to have the treatment or procedure, then the doctor would have committed medical malpractice if the patient is injured by the procedure in the manner that the doctor should have warned could happen. However, if the patient consents to the treatment or procedure after being warned of the risks, the doctor still may be liable for medical malpractice should the patient suffer injury during the treatment or procedure. A recent medical malpractice case demonstrates that a doctor cannot hide behind informed consent if he was negligent.
Because most medical procedures and treatments involve some risk a doctor or other healthcare worker has a responsibility to let the patient know about such risk. This allows the patient to make a decision as to whether or not to undergo that procedure or course of treatment. Such consent it typically given by the patient in writing. However, in emergent cases where physicians must act immediately to save the patient’s life, the law allows them to do so without first obtaining informed consent.
The Case of Vickie Tatlock
In 2004 Vickie Tatlock was admitted to Bloomington Hospital with a serious heart condition. Tatlock’s condition required a procedure called an angioplasty. There was no issue concerning informed consent, and Dr. James Faris performed the procedure. A known risk of angioplasty is that a coronary artery may be perforated. That is what happened to Tatlock. A perforation of a coronary artery increases the risk for cardiac tamponade, which is a dangerous condition that develops when too much fluid builds up in the sac in which the heart is enclosed, causing pressure on the heart. Thus, when an artery is perforated, the patient must be watched closely.
Negligence Despite Informed Consent
Dr. Faris failed to watch Tatlock closely and instead tended to another patient. Furthermore, Dr. Faris did not request that another physician check in on Tatlock. Tatlock did suffer a cardiac tamponade, her condition steadily deteriorated, and she eventually died. Tatlock was just 49 years old. Tatlock’s husband and son sued Dr. Faris. The case finally came to verdict in October 2013 with the jury awarding the plaintiffs over $5 million in damages. In this case Tatlock consented to the angioplasty knowing that a perforated artery was a risk. However, when Tatlock did suffer the perforated artery, Dr. Faris and the hospital staff had a duty to follow accepted medical practice to treat the condition. Since Dr. Faris failed to do so he was liable for medical malpractice. The type of malpractice that Faris committed was not that he failed to warn Tatlock, but that in treating Tatlock Faris failed to meet the appropriate standard of care.
While informed consent is indeed necessary to ensure that the patient understands the risks associated with a treatment or procedure and to protect the physician from legal liability, in reality is such consent given freely in cases where the alternative is the worsening of a condition or even death?
There are a few good reasons to maintain an organized medicine cabinet, not the least of which is to simplify our lives and make it easier to find the things we need. Another important reason to keep our medicine cabinets in order is to make sure we’re not holding on to any expired medications.Medication errors, ranging from incorrect prescriptions to taking expired pills, injure in excess of 1.5 million people annually. Here are five things you can do to de-clutter your medicine cabinet and ensure that doesn’t happen to you.
First Things First
Start from scratch and clear out the entire medicine cabinet. Throw away anything that is damaged, useless, and most importantly, expired. This article from the Food and Drug Administration talks about the dangers of taking expired prescription drugs.
Next, clean the shelves with disinfectant wipes or a sponge and disinfectant spray. If you are able to remove the shelves, take them out, wash them in soap and water, and thoroughly dry before replacing.
If your medicine cabinet shelves are adjustable, move them up to create more room for the tallest items, such as cologne, hair gels, and toothbrushes and toothpaste. Putting your toothbrush behind a closed door is more sanitary than leaving it out on the counter.
Another great way to maximize space is to invest a few dollars in mini risers. They add an extra shelf to the medicine cabinet, which allows you to neatly store more items.
Location, Location, Location
As you return the items to the medicine cabinet, pay attention to where they go. Anything you don’t use often should be placed on the top shelf, or even in another cabinet. For example, how often do you really use hydrogen peroxide? Save the lower shelve(s) for everyday items.
Think Small and Consolidate
Anything you buy in bulk, such as cotton balls, should be moved to smaller containers with the big bags being stored separately. Place the items in uniform clear jars for ease of identification, place them in the medicine cabinet, and refill as needed. This prevents everything from tumbling out of the medicine cabinet every time you open the door. If it’s feasible, do the same thing with liquids, like hair gel.
When it comes to items that are already small, consider consolidating them into a single clear jar. For example, group together your lip balm, eyeliner, mascara, and lipstick. That way, nothing will roll out of the medicine cabinet, but you can still easily retrieve the items.
To make it easier to find everything once it’s all been organized, group things together by category. All of your makeup should have its own area, as should all of your first aid supplies, medicines, hygiene products, and so on. That way, when you open the medicine cabinet looking for something, you don’t have to move everything around (disorganizing it again!) just to find it.
Keeping an organized medicine cabinet can save you time and help you avoid frustration. It can also serve as a reminder to keep track of the dates on your medications, so you can throw them out once they’re expired. If you need to get rid of old medication, but don’t know how to safely dispose of it, read this article from the FDA, because while it is important to dispose of expired medication, it’s also important to do it properly.
The anticipation of surgery leads to feelings of anxiety that most certainly only add to the already stressful situation. Regardless of what kind of surgery will be performed, no one looks forward to it, or the post-operative recovery period. Fortunately, there are some things you can do for yourself prior to surgery that will go a long way in helping you get back on your feet sooner.
The most important thing you can do for yourself prior to having any surgical procedure, is to organize your life so that it’s easier on you once you get home. Here are a few items to put on your checklist.
- Communicate: Discuss the surgery with your friends, family, spouse, and caregiver (if applicable). Line up the help you will need and make sure to thoroughly communicate your needs, the severity of the surgery, and the projected recovery period. Remember to include transportation to and from the hospital or clinic, as well as pet care, in the conversation.
- Home: Clean your home, seeking help, if needed, and arrange your furniture in a way that will most benefit your recovery. Remove obstacles from entryways, particularly the bathroom and kitchen, and make sure that loose rugs, wires and other things that are typically on the floor, are removed from your path. Take careful notice of the layout of your bathroom and kitchen. Place often used items, such as soap and dishes, in easier to reach places.
- Bills: Don’t forget about your finances, especially if your recovery is expected to be particularly long or challenging. If possible, pay your bills in advance. If you have concerns about falling behind on payments, call your creditors before you have surgery. That way, you can have peace of mind when you come home to recuperate.
All of these tips are aimed at helping you not only prepare for surgery, but also prepare for recovery. The easier you make it on yourself the quicker you will recover. Outside of organizing your friends and family, as well as your home and finances, there are many other things that you can do to help yourself prepare.Click here for an informative slideshow presented by WebMD. It offers valuable tips on preparing for surgery, as well as what to expect during and after surgery.
Regardless of how well prepared you are before heading into surgery, you’ll likely experience some measure of anxiety. Here is a great resource from eHow.com about how to mentally and emotionally prepare for surgery.
The biggest question that can’t be answered, of course, is ‘will something go wrong?’ After all, you will be under anesthesia, and that’s a scary proposition for many people. While there is no way to ensure that nothing will go wrong, it’s critical that you know about the possibilities of anesthesia errors, if only to be informed. Education is one way to help alleviate your anxiety in that regard. Information on how anesthesia is administered, as well as potential errors related to its administration are available plentifully. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or anesthesiologist before the surgery.