Tips for when your older family member is hospitalized. From the Aging Life Care Experts at Elder Care Consulting.
Clients moving between systems of health care must develop a clear process for providing the emergency room with pertinent critical health information. Advanced directives, medication, and health conditions are all examples of critical pieces of information. This information must be repeated with each transfer to a different floor, rehab center or community health setting. You would be surprised how many times the medication list never goes from the emergency room to the nurse just one floor up. Honoring a patient’s health care wishes may not be possible if steps are not taken in advance to repeatedly communicate this information
Older people especially may be stuck in what we Professional Geriatric Care Managers call the information gap. Last month an individual was discharged with the wrong medications because the pharmacy that dispensed the medications had another individual with the same name in their database already. This week a patient sent from a nursing home to a hospital had her Do Not Resuscitate status read incorrectly and was intubated despite her wishes.
Our geriatric care management company is an integrated service using both Professional Geriatric Care Managers and home health aides. We train our aides to bring the care plan, medication lists, emergency family contacts and DNR status from the home to the hospital, should a client become ill in the middle of the night.
When our folks are sent to the emergency room, we go to great lengths to make sure that critical information, advanced directives, powers of attorney or conservator status are sent to the hospital. We then call the triage nurse to assure that the documents are received. When our client is admitted, we call the case managers in the hospital and the nurse floor to confirm the information is on the chart.
In this age of fragmented health care, repeatedly confirming that information is accurate frequently saves a life.
Lori O’Connor, MSN, APRN is a nationally certified Professional Geriatric Care Manager and a Certified Dementia Specialist with Elder Care Consulting, LLC She owns and manages three companies providing geriatric care management, home support services and an adult day center.