Hospital Survival


Wash your hands! Wash your hands! Wash your hands!

A recent article by Michelle Crouch (Reader’s Digest – May ’18) indicates that over 440,000 American die every year from medical errors and infections contracted in area hospitals.  So, how do we as patients head off this statistic?  Take charge of your care: ask questions, take notes and have someone be a health advocate on your behalf. As Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., former senior vice president for patient safety and quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore states: you are part of the healthcare team, it’s your body, you know yourself better than anyone else.

We can’t always determine which hospital we are taken to in an emergency, but we can investigate the hospitals in the area in which we live.  Get to know the “medical standing” of each facility that you see in your neighborhood.  Is it a good hospital?  Does it have an emergency department?  What type of care does the hospital provide? These are simple questions but you will be surprised what the answers provide.  They will give you a good indication of the quality of healthcare.

When you receive a medical diagnosis you can always ask, “is there anything else it might be?” This opens the discussion between you and the healthcare provider.  If you are unsure, you can always get a second opinion.  If you are in the hospital when this diagnosis occurs, you can also request a “medical huddle.”  This gives the medical team the opportunity to meet with you in one place and discuss your care.

Test results are often confusing to the layperson.  CT’s, lab work, MRI’s, XRAY’s, biopsies, skin scrapings, cultures, enzyme activity, therapeutic levels are all medical evaluations that usually require an informed medical follow-up with both the provider and patient to correctly determine the results. Meeting with your medical provider gives you the opportunity to have an in-depth discussion about your medical condition and any needed follow-up care.


Superbugs!  Today, this is a real and constant source of infection.  The CDC no longer recommends antibiotics after an operation if you don’t have signs of infection.  Antibiotics can kill the protective bacteria in your gut which gives way for the invasion of Clostridium Difficile (C. diff.), one of the deadliest hospital-acquired infections, according to Arjun Srinivasan, M.D., a medical epidemiologist at the CDC.

A hospital room, or a busy clinic area, often aren’t cleaned properly.  It’s not that the personnel aren’t competent or that the infections guidelines are inadequate, it’s due to tight-routines and short-staffing.  This may also extend to medical items as well: catheters, IV’s, tubing, blood collection equipment, countertops, bed rails, floors, bathrooms.  You may want to carry some sanitizing wipes for your personal care. This is also a good time to mention: WASH YOUR HANDS, and do it often and whenever necessary.


Personal lifestyle activities are very important in maintaining health.  Brushing your teeth can aid in keeping you healthy.  Bacteria harboring in your mouth and between your teeth may travel to your lungs causing a nasty case of pneumonia.  Needless to say, never use someone else’s toothbrush.  If you experience diarrhea it could be the first sign of an infection.  Good personal grooming is vitally important for maintaining good health and avoiding potential health problems to others.  Again, WASH YOUR HANDS.

I mention WASHING YOUR HANDS often in this review because it is a simple function that anyone can perform.  It’s your best weapon against infection and it prevents the spread of potential bacterial infection to other people and environmental surfaces.  A good hand washing routine includes: soap and water, working-up a good lather, rinsing, drying, and discarding the wet cloth.  Remember to wash your hands before you eat and after using the bathroom.

There are some common objects in a medical care facility that usually accumulate bacteria and virus “bugs.”  Unfortunately, they are objects that we use every day: TV remotes, elevator buttons, stethoscopes, BP cuffs, telephones, bed rails, IV poles, chairs, flat surfaces, toilet handles, wheelchairs, faucet handles.  Even though we want to be friendly with our neighbor, not everyone remembers to wash their hands or uses good grooming practices.  So, when you shake hands with someone and they are suffering from an obvious cold or infection use extra good cleaning practices.

After we have done all that can be done to keep ourselves healthy, it’s important to stay that way.  Some hints include: eat balanced meals, exercise on a regular basis, form a medical team with your providers, adopt healthy lifestyle habits,  be a health advocate when you’re a hospital patient, and yes I’m going to say it again: WASH YOUR HANDS!


Selling Our Attention


I heard this phrase the other day – “selling our attention.”  Initially, I dismissed it as just another generic part of a conversation. Then I realized that the term was being repeated in my mind.  One of those annoying things that unconsciously repeat and repeat in your brain for no apparent reason.  Well, since I’m a medical person and tend to look at most issues from a health point of view,  I decided to follow the workings of my brain and think about this phrase.

I was drawn to memories of my days in medical rotations and health internships.  When a patient came to an emergency area for care the first question asked was: “What is your medical issue?” The attention of both the patient and medical staff was on the medical need – restore the health of this person.  The issue of payment or insurance coverage wasn’t addressed until care had been given and the patient was recovered. Patient follow-up to a medical clinic or doctor office was scheduled for ample time so that specific care could be provided and only then would the patient be sent a bill.  Possibly, the post-op care was included with the initial visit and no charge was billed for the follow-up care. The attention was on providing quality care for the patient. Today, I spend a large amount of money to maintain medical insurance as a fortification against financial ruin in lieu of a medical emergency.  I am indeed selling my attention to the medical insurance company so that they can certify me eligible to obtain care in a medical facility.


My brain again repeats the phrase: “selling our attention.”  I’m reminded of the amount of money I spend each day on maintaining my computer function, television operation, telephone maintenance, and other electrical and technical appliances in my daily life.  Some of us even spend money to listen to certain types of radio programs.  All of this wave-based information providing technology consumes our attention and we pay for it.  I remember the day when people watched their television for free.  Once someone bought their television set, they plugged the set into the electrical outlet and simply chose which channel to watch.  Didn’t have to pay for the service or endure painful commercials.  Today we pay to not only watch certain “bundled” television channels but we also pay to watch questionable TV based commercials.

The phrase “selling our attention” will probably be repeating in my brain for awhile.  It’s interesting how a small saying can get such big attention – like a focused feline.  All I know is, I’m now more aware of how and where I focus and sell my attention.


She Sent A Gift


A young woman sent a gift to one of her girlfriends.  It wasn’t elaborate or expensive or elegant. It was just an item that caught her eye when she was shopping for something else.  The small item was almost an afterthought.  She dropped it into her large shopping bag where it fell to the bottom and was hidden in the crease.

In the glee of unpacking her newly purchased treasures, she forgot about the tiny item and absentmindedly threw it away along with the used shopping bag. She didn’t think about it again until she was getting ready for bed that evening and was reviewing the days’ activities.  She jumped up from her chair and ran to retrieve the bag from the trash.  Unfolding the crumpled bag and digging through the multiple creases she finally spied the article, unharmed.

Examining the present again, she realized that it was indeed the perfect gift for her friend.  Maybe it wasn’t just an accident that she found this item?  Did something tell her to buy the present?  Could she be motivated by something she didn’t understand?  Whatever she was feeling by just looking at the present motivated her decision to give the present to her girlfriend the very next day.


Springtime Activities


We have all been there.  Enjoying the full wonders of nature as the earth, temperature, wind and solar system all cooperate to present the ideal environment for us to enjoy the full benefits of nature.  We shed our heavy coats, get rid of our wool scarves, hide our gloves, put away our snow boots and leave our insulated pants and socks in the drawer.

Our energy level seems to rise to a fever pitch – mimicking the bursting sap of nature.  There’s something about smelling, seeing and experiencing the kaleidoscope colors and scattering scents of nature blooming that inspire us to do the same.  We imitate nature and therefore gain energy from being part of the process.

The holidays of the season – Easter, Arbor Day, Mother’s Day, etc., even seem to be “light” holidays.  The colors that we chose to celebrate these days are generally pink and yellow and green and blue.  We all feel healthier because the environment around us appears healthy.


So, to stay within the spirit of the holiday season, I’m wishing everyone a very Happy Springtime. Enjoy.