It has become a prevalent issue in the US today with COVID 19 affecting so many people that families/loved ones are not permitted to stay or visit Hospitals, Rehab facilities, Nursing Homes or Assisted Living Facilities primarily to protect those who are there as well as you. It has also been a serious issue with many states making very bad decisions on integrating COVID 19 patients with healthy patients in community rehab settings. This is an epidemic, so how do you navigate it?
How do you go about assuring your loved one is being properly cared for ? That right decisions are being made in the best interest of your loved one? All these questions loom through our minds, especially if we are not cognizant of the medical / health care world. Many are not.
Today, we will provide you with some free guidance with hope to help everyone in this dire, helpless situation during this outbreak. Having been in the medical field for over 28 years and providing Advocacy & Coaching services needed in areas during recent 8 years; I have found the Advocacy side is of utmost importance for many people to understand. It is best to have a private advocate who understands and best services your family's interests, someone you know you can trust, this could be someone like us, or YOU the family member. BUT, you must understand how the healthcare world works, and gain perspective on its do's and don'ts. I would not necessarily trust what your insurance company says, because do you think they have your interest at heart? We can only hope! With money involved, you never know. Cheapest way out is the golden rule. Savings. Beware.
Herein is a checklist that we recommend you follow closely for your loved one, especially if they are incapacitated, elderly and confused, under influence of newly prescribed drugs etc. their life depends on you and the care of the medical team involved. Important to note: medical providers are humans too, we never know who is making the right or wrong decision, how long have they had experience, and has there been a team review in your loved ones case! We hope to put our lives in this person's hands, but I cannot say enough how some fatalities emerge out of poor decisions or lack of follow through OR because of mandates by insurance for time in hospital being sent home too early. There are so many new rules from insurance companies since Obamacare that hospitals and physicians are the ones affected in an adverse way. Unfortunate but true. They are bound by penalties.
1. Always be prepared, have a current Medication list for you or your loved one available at all times on your person (index card or sheet) in event of emergency or illness, provide this CURRENT medication list to the medical team to assist with less or risk of change! I cannot stress enough how IMPORTANT this is. As doctors who do not know what you're on prescribe something that will work adverse or what was discharged or not prescribed by your family doctor or specialist....this can be life changing! THIS HAPPENS OFTEN.
2. Have a list of recent Medical Alerts or Diagnostic Studies , current health condition of you or your loved one available to provide to medical teams. This saves time for all and assures critical health items are not missed.
3. MONITOR your loved one's condition - ASK questions why are decisions made by the medical team and for what reason? What Medications are they currently on and why? Then do your research. Understand the situation to gain control of it, this goes into my next segment...why?
4. Obtain the Name of the Admitting Physician Attending to your loved one in addition to others on the care team.
5. ASK QUESTIONS AND GET CONCLUSIVE ANSWERS BEFORE A DISCHARGE. Speak to the Medical Team or Charge Nurse on the status. Stay on top of your loved one's status. Take notes of each call, get the name of who you talk to.
If your loved one when speaking to him or her states or you sense they do not seem right, NOT their usual self while they are in the hospital, OR they have had a trauma injury especially to the head; DO NOT ALLOW them to be discharged within 2-3 days if elderly especially, unless there is confirmed clear evidence they are in a condition to improve to come home. Many times, such as with head trauma longer evaluation is necessary to assure there is no bleed or clot formed that could affect brain or heart! Some end up in a Rehab facility, whereas you are at the mercy of low to mid level help while there are many other patients. Some hired have little experience to identify signs, while your loved one lays there in distress or a deplorable condition. This is not acceptable!
Where your loved one ends up is even more of a concern, stay involved with the Case Manager at the Hospital who is assisting to place your loved one. Assure all have been COVID tested where they are going and verify.
6. ASK FOR ALL COPIES OF YOUR LOVED ONES MEDICAL RECORDS AT TIME OF THEIR DISCHARGE. Usually you must contact the Hospital Medical Records department to request this information. Make sure to receive any Diagnostic reports, Laboratory Results, Physician Notes, Discharge Instruction Notes, Operative Notes, Medication List !
7. TAKE ACTION, RESEARCH on the CHOICE of where you want your loved one to go for Rehab or Long Term Care! Much does depend on their insurance as well. Look up on the Florida State website through Agency of Health Care Administration to see the record score card of facilities in ANY area of the state. This is important to assure your loved one will receive proper care and not be "neglected". Patient Neglect happens more often than we can digest, and it should be way more under "control" by the state but with current situations this is questionable. Many do slip through the cracks, this goes for Nursing homes, Rehab and Assisted Living Facilities alike.
8. STAY ON TOP OF YOUR LOVED ONE'S CARE--- CALL, CHECK IN AND VISIT WHEN YOU ARE PERMITTED.
We hope this information provided will assist everyone during this time of uncertainty.