If you have ever been admitted to the hospital, or visited a relative or friend in the hospital, then you may be acquainted with the unfamiliar, technical, medical lingo, unfamiliar faces popping into your room every so often to check in on you, diagnoses that are uncommon or perhaps even strange and confusing, and treatment plans that may seem elusive or complicated.  So how can you and your family keep track of all this information?  Our Houston medical malpractice attorney recommends using a patient hospital checklist.

A Checklist Can Help You Stay Informed and Organized

At work and in your personal life, you probably create lists fairly regularly to help you keep track of appointments, manage your budget, complete daily tasks and chores, and return unanswered phone calls.  You may create a checklist to help you complete your work goals and duties throughout the day, week, or month.  For example, you may create a checklist that details:

1) Wake up kids; 2) Prepare lunch for school; 3) Check work emails; 4) Meeting at 10:30 am; 5) Lunch meeting with client; 6) Submit weekly goals to team; 7) Soccer practice after school 

Checklists can help you stay on track and remember important deadlines.  Checklists can also be helpful when you are managing your health.  As a patient, you can benefit from a patient hospital checklist that helps you better prepare for and understand information that you will need prior to, during, and after hospitalization.

patient hospital checklist

The Idea Behind the Patient Hospital Checklist

A surgeon by the name of Atul Gawande, who writes for The New Yorker and is also a surgeon at Harvard Medical School, wrote the 2010 book, “The Checklist Manifesto – How to Get Things Right,” which details why having checklists in operating rooms can help reduce the rate of surgical complications and death.  In a study conducted at eight different hospitals, a checklist in the operating room helped to reduce the instance of surgical complications and death by 35 percent.  It seems clear that when medical professionals use a checklist, or a bedside aide, there are better results.

As a patient, having a patient hospital checklist can only help you, not hurt.  Being informed and knowing what you can do to aide in the recovery process is important, and it may even reduce the likelihood that the condition will reoccur, or that a mistake is made.  Using a patient hospital checklist can also help you and those closest to you stay informed about who is managing your care and in what capacity.  If you have questions, a checklist can ensure that you know who to ask.

Patient Hospital Checklist

The following list, outlined by Slate in a July 2015 article, can help a patient determine how to obtain vital information for recovery, as well as identifying which member of the medical team may be able to provide it.

  • Ask for names: Ask for the names of your primary hospital doctor, nurses who are assigned to your room, as well as specialists who make up your healthcare team.
  • Speak with your physician about your diagnosis: Ask for your main diagnosis, other potential issues, and express any concerns or questions that you may have.
  • Ask how your illnesses or post-operative health is responding to treatment or the procedure: Ask your nursing staff about your progress, as well as what you can do to assist in the recovery process.
  • Ask for assistance from trusted family members and friends: Ask your family, friends, or other trusted acquaintances to be involved and help in your recovery.  Your loved ones can be an important part of your recovery, so it is important to ask those you trust most for help.
  • Speak to a hospital social worker: If you have questions about insurance and billing, ask to speak with a hospital social worker who can help clarify what your insurance covers and how much you may be required to pay after your hospital stay.
  • Speak with your nurse manager or charge nurse if you are having issues with care or communication: Your nurse should keep you informed and updated on your treatment, prognosis, and recovery. If you have questions or concerns, ask to speak with the manager or charge nurse for clarification.
  • Prior to discharge, find out what medications you should continue to take: Before leaving the hospital, take the time to fully review what medications you will be taking, what you should hold off on taking, and how these medications may affect you. A patient hospital checklist is a great way to get started documenting your medications, and can easily be updated once you are home and some medications may be tapered off.
  • Ask the medical staff to demonstrate to you and your caregivers any treatments that you may need after discharge: If your treatment plan requires at-home involvement from you or a caregiver, make sure that you have all the information needed.  For example, if you require at-home injections, your doctor or nurse should show you how to administer the injection, and what warning signs to look for that something went wrong.  If your treatment requires bandages or dressings, your healthcare team should show you how to change the bandage properly. Your doctor or nurse should also counsel you on how to prevent infection. Before you leave the hospital, you should practice in front of a doctor or nurse so that you know you are doing it correctly.
  • Find out if it is safe to perform ordinary, daily tasks on your own: Before leaving the hospital, find out if you are healthy enough to resume daily tasks like driving, taking a shower, or exercising.  Never assume that because you have been discharged that you are ready to resume normal activities. Many illnesses and injuries take time to heal, and many medications can cause side effects you might not consider.
  • Determine whether or not you can or should use medical equipment to aid in recovery: Speak with your nurse or doctor about any equipment that may be able to assist you during the recovery process, such as a heart rate monitor, walker, or brace.
  • Ask about follow-up appointments: Ask your healthcare team if you will need a follow up appointment, further treatments, or additional testing. Make note of any important dates in your calendar.
  • Let your medical staff know if you have any questions about your discharge instructions: Read through any discharge instructions before leaving the hospital and make sure you understand everything covered in the instructions.

As you can see, there are many things to consider when you seek treatment from a hospital. A patient hospital checklist is a great way to keep track of important information, and be certain that once you are discharged you are prepared to resume control over your health.

Additional Resources

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