Patient Safety During COVID-19
Our Chief Clinical Director Carol Wratten MD MBA FACOG has shared these important tips for navigating your hospital experience during COVID-19.
How can I avoid COVID-19 infection?
There is clear evidence that frequent handwashing, the consistent use of masks, limiting contact with people other than your household, avoiding large gatherings of people, and keeping a physical distance from others when you must be in a public space markedly reduce the risk of you getting or inadvertently spreading this virus.
We do the most for ourselves and our loved ones by following these guidelines that are supported by evidence and the experience of many who have suffered illness and death of family members when these guidelines were not followed.
How do we protect ourselves and our loved ones during this time of COVID-19?
We are the best advocates for ourselves and loved ones when we do all we can to stay healthy. Everyone should be continuing to practice healthy habits for eating, sleeping, exercise, contact with friends and family (virtual) and stress reduction.
If you or your loved one has underlying health conditions treat them vigorously. Obesity and diabetes are 2 underlying health conditions that have clearly been shown to impact the risk of death in people who get COVID-19.
Don’t put off health maintenance. Doctors offices have adapted to the presence of the virus and have put in place safe practices for you to receive care. Virtually all offices have telemedicine options for routine follow up so there is no reason to put off having your chronic medical conditions monitored.
What happens if I have a new medical problem that I need to be seen for?
Doctors offices, urgent care clinics, emergency rooms and hospitals are all prepared and adept at treating patients safely. Do not delay care in a medical emergency. Deaths from treatable medical emergencies like heart attack and stroke are higher than usual because people are avoiding the healthcare system. This is unnecessary.
Your first call if you have a new health problem should be to your regular healthcare provider, but if you think you are having a heart attack , stroke or a major injury go to the emergency room as you would ordinarily do.
All hospitals are keeping COVID-19 suspected patients separate from other patients.
If I need to go to the hospital how can my family stay involved in my care?
Know that right now while the numbers of hospitalizations from COVID-19 are extremely high there will be restriction on visitation in the hospital. That does NOT mean that family involvement is less important for you or your healthcare team. There are some situations where a family member can be with the patient. Check your hospital’s website for the current visitation policies and procedures and special circumstances.
- Do not attempt to visit a family member if you are sick yourself.
- Anyone allowed to visit will be screened for illness and required to wear masks at all times.
- Hospitals are doing everything they can to help keep family members in the loop. Many are providing electronic devices to hospitalized patients if they do not have one to help keep families informed and involved.
- Take an iPad or smart phone.
- Have a list of your medications.
- Know your allergies
- Bring advanced directives.
- Write down the names of your key family members and identify the one person that will be the primary contact for the healthcare team. Remember HIPAA rules. Providers must guard a patient’s rights of privacy and can only give information to people that a patient has designated.
- Ask the treating doctor and bedside nurse how you can stay informed.
- Often scheduled calls are easier for the nurse who is working harder than ever with additional safety protocols and without the help of family members to assist with patient care.
- Ask when rounds are made.
- Ask your loved one if they are alert to call you at shift change and when the doctor makes rounds so that you can hear the questions, answers and understand the plan for the day.
- If your loved one is not able to place the call ask the nurse to do it for him/her.
- In situations where the patient is very ill doctors will hold a virtual family conference if asked. Don’t be afraid to ask.
- Healthcare professionals want to involve the family, and they have a much more difficult task in trying to arrange that. Be proactive and ask for what you need understanding that times for follow up have to be dictated by patient needs that require nurses and doctors time.
- It is especially important to have a conference call when a patient is ready to be dismissed. Patients and caregivers at home must understand their roles and responsibilities to keep the patient safe and healing.
CDC Covid-19 Information
People with increased risk
Testing for Covid 19
What if I get sick?
How to properly wear a Mask