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Be Proactive in Your Health and at the Deli Counter

Posted Dec 05 2008 2:29pm

Have you ever waited a long time at the deli counter before your number was called to be served and somehow your turn got skipped over? What was your reaction? Did you speak up and politely let the deli person know you were the next person to be served or did you get in a huff, show how upset you were and you just left the line? 

Well, I recently was at the deli counter at the local supermarket, and witnessed how a woman waiting to be served was skipped over. She didn’t say anything but sighed heavily, turned to the gentleman next to her and very impolitely said, “What, am I invisible?” and walked away. I was just minding my own business and the gentleman turned to me and said, “All she had to do was to speak up.”

Ah-Hah! How right he was. If you can’t politely speak up at the deli counter, what on earth will happen if you are a patient in the hospital? Are you going to get in a huff and just walk out of the hospital?

It sounds so easy, right? Just ask questions and its all good. A hospital can be a very scary place. It’s really fast paced, you’re surrounded by a lot of activity and it can be very overwhelming. You may feel intimidated to ask questions. After all, you may feel that every aspect of your health care should be administered with simplicity and ease.

Simple, it is not. You need to be proactive and take charge of your health. 

Here are some quick and simple tips:

  • Always speak up and ask questions.
  • Never feel intimidated to ask questions.
  • Never be embarrassed to ask questions.
  • If you don’t understand something, ask for a clarification.
  • Make sure you understand your diagnosis and treatment.
Give Yourself Permission
  • To be in charge of your health.
  • To be proactive.
  • To participate with your doctors and nurses as an important member of the health care team.

Don’t Assume Anything
  • Don’t assume that your doctor, nurse or anyone else that comes in contact with you just washed their hands. It’s okay to ask them if they’ve just washed their hands. After all hand washing is the single most effective way to stop the spread of infections.
  • If something doesn’t seem right, question it.
Stay Safe
  • If you are scheduled for surgery make sure you understand EXACTLY what’s involved.
  • Talk to your surgeon about the area, procedure and recovery involved.
  • Make sure the appropriate area is clearly marked before surgery.
  • Know your “Patient Bill of Rights.”
  • If you need assistance, ASK! This will help keep you safe. You do not want to fall and get injured.
  • Make sure you understand the medications that are ordered for you in the hospital.
  • When the nurse administers your medications, make sure you understand what they are for, and if there are any side effects. Also, make sure your nurse identifies you as the correct patient before any medications are administered.
  • Learn the five checks nurses must perform before administering any medications and make sure they do them:  Right Patient, Right Drug, Right Dose, Right Route, and Right Time.
  • If you believe you are about to receive the wrong medication let your nurse know immediately.
Patient Advocate
  • Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your patient advocate. The hospital environment can be very frightening and overwhelming and often answering very simple questions can be difficult. If you have an advocate with you they can speak up on your behalf and answer questions for you.
  • Make sure your advocate understands your plan of care and if there is an advance directive.
BTW, I bought deli meats that are approved by the American Heart Association. Look for the label the next time you’re at the deli counter and make sure you politely speak up if you were skipped over while waiting! Take charge of your health and your life! Always speak up and ask questions!
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