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.

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, for instance.

For example, you may create a checklist to help you complete your work goals and duties throughout the day.

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 

It only makes sense that 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 surgery.

When you enter a vehicle, you are told to check your tires, check your mirrors, fasten your safety belt, and look for oncoming traffic or obstacles. This is a simple checklist that will help you avoid an auto accident.Although this may be a simple example of a daily task-oriented checklist, there are also more detailed and specific checklists that are required to complete certain jobs or tasks. Airline pilots, for instance, have a very specific set of tasks and measures that they have to execute and check off their list prior to take off. This, of course, makes us feel safer and it ensures that everything is ready to go for take off.

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The Idea Behind the Patient Hospital Checklist

A surgeon by the name of Atul Gawande, who both writes for The New Yorker and works as 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%. 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.

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 which member of the medical team may be able to provide it.

  • Ask for the names of your primary hospital doctor as well as other specialists who make up your physician 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 will be an important part of your recovery, so it is important to ask them 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. They should keep you informed and updated on your treatment, prognosis, and recovery.
  • Prior to discharge, find out what medications you should continue to take. Take the time to fully understand what you should be taking, what you should hold off on taking, and how these medications may affect you.
  • Ask the medical staff to demonstrate to you and your caregivers any treatments that you may need after discharge. For example, they should show you how to give an injection or how to change a bandage, and you should practice in front of them so that you know you are doing it correctly.
  • Find out if it is safe to perform ordinary, daily tasks on your own, such as driving a vehicle, taking a shower, or exercising.
  • 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, further treatments, or testing. Notate it in your calendar.
  • Let your medical staff know if you have any questions about your discharge instructions. Read through the instructions and make sure you understand everything that they cover.

Additional Resources

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