Surviving A Hospital Stay

The most effective way to survive a hospital stay is to be your own determined advocate.

You are in charge of your body and your treatment. It is in your best interest to treat hospital staff with kindness and respect, but never be afraid of offending or bothering them by asking questions or expressing concerns.

It is especially important to remain on top of your diabetes management. If you cannot do so, a friend or family member should be present to advocate for you. The available hospital staff might not have specialized training in diabetes management. If you have a diabetes ID, wear it while in the hospital.

Tips for Managing Your Glucose

  1. If your own doctor or care team are not involved with your hospital care, have them prepare a detailed written plan about how your blood glucose is to be managed. Keep a copy at your bedside, and insist that a copy is in your chart.
  2. If you are self-monitoring in the hospital, have a doctor’s order in your chart stating specifically what aspects of diabetes self-management you are responsible for. Appoint a relative or friend who understands your needs to see the plan is followed if you are unconscious or under sedation.
  3. Report any symptoms of low blood glucose to the nurse immediately. Keep a stash of quick carbs or glucose tabs within reach.
  4. If a meal is late in arriving, summon the nurse right away. Make sure the nurses and your doctor know whether you feel nauseous or have vomited. If your food or medicine does not stay down, other measures will need to be taken to control your glucose.
  5. Know how much fasting is required before procedures and what the plans are for maintaining your blood sugar within a safe range before, during and after the procedure. Find out how long after a surgery it will be before you can resume solid foods and how your blood glucose will be maintained until then.

Tips for Avoiding Infection

  1. If you notice any caregivers fail to wash their hands before treating you, speak up. Make sure they wear clean gloves and remind them if necessary.
  2. Wash your own hands or use hand sanitizer frequently. Do not allow personal items to be set on the floor before touching your bed or hands, and do not allow visitors to prop their feet (or put their shoes) on your bed.
  3. Inform your nurses about bruises, cuts or sores that have formed or not healed.
  4. It is better to stay well than be polite. If visitors have the sniffles, ask them to leave.

Avoiding Treatment Errors

Whenever a technician, orderly or nurse comes into your room, ask them why they are there. Understand what medication they are giving you and why before taking it; ask how much they are giving and how often it is given. If hospital staff wants to administer a treatment, have them explain what they plan to do and why.

If any medication or treatment does not seem right to you, have the staff check with your doctor before proceeding.

Sources: Diabetes Health; The Patient’s Corner; Diabetes Self Management
Photo credit: Chelsea Stirlen / flickr creative commons

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