Monday, June 24, 2013


Making the best of a stay in the hospital

Having been a nurse for over 30 years, I was pretty comfortable in all areas of a hospital.  But recently I experienced what it is like on the other side of the hospital bed — when family members have been the patient, and I was not the nurse caring for them.

Fortunately, the care my loved ones received was excellent.  Here are some insights on how to make the best of a hospitalization — lessons learned from my experience on both sides of the hospital bed.

•  Ask questions.  It’s your body. You should understand everything about your illness, diagnosis, and treatment plan of care, so ask questions to clarify. Make sure it’s in understandable terms.

•  Collaborate with the hospital staff. They truly want to deliver the very best care possible, but you need to cooperate and not keep any secrets. If you haven’t been taking your insulin at home, your doctor needs to know so he or she can plan your treatment appropriately.

•  Think positive.  Studies have shown that a positive attitude enhances your recovery and even helps to minimize your pain.

•  Know your medications. For your safety you need to be aware of the names of your medications, what each one is for, the proper dosages, and any possible side effects or interactions to watch out for.

•  Designate a support person to advocate for you. If you feel too ill to participate in your medical care and directions, it helps to have another person listening to instructions.

•  Work closely with the discharge planner. If you anticipate needing services from nurses, health aides, occupational or physical therapists once your return home, the discharge planner will make these arrangements.

It’s everyone’s goal to have the best care possible, no matter which side of the bed you are on. 

Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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