Medical Minute 12-16: Hospital Survival Guide

By: Ramin Khalili Email
By: Ramin Khalili Email

The hospital is a place no one wants to go.

"I was scared to death to have this surgery," said Harold Massey.

But soothing those fears could save your life.

"There are a lot of things you don't really appreciate until you're a patient," said Ellen Menard, Author of The Not So Patient Advocate.

Ellen Menard has been on both sides of the hospital bed. This registered nurse and top hospital manager became a patient with a brain tumor.

"I've had two brain surgeries and radiation within a year and a half."

During recovery, she realized her insider knowledge of the system may have kept her safer. Her top behind-the-scenes tip?

"What time do you change shifts? Ask that question, cause it's different in every hospital," she said.

Ellen says safety can slack-off during shift changes. Next up, what's the nursing turnover rate on your floor? More than 10% is a red flag and could mean unhappy nurses who impact your care. Also, study your own medical chart.

"Somebody has to make sure they've got the right kidney when they take it out," said Ellen Menard.

Plus, know your doctor's numbers. And we don't mean his pager.

"How many of these have you done in the last week, in the last month, in the last year?"

One study, from the National Bureau of Economic Research, Journal of Surgical Research, says to avoid surgery in July. That's when new med students start. Two Harvard professors say it's linked to a two-percent boost in length of stay, and a four-percent spike in mortality. And don't go under the knife on Friday. One study found higher mortality rates on that day compared to Monday through Wednesday.

"It's a long journey for patients, you know, and that's the thing I know."

Now Ellen's making sure her journey makes yours a little less frightening.

For More Information, Contact:Ellen Menard, Author Notable Works: The Not So Patient

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