Patient tucked into a nurses pocket with heart hand symbol around them

5 Things to Remember While In the Hospital

As a registered nurse (RN) for 15 years who has spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital over the last decade due to chronic illness, I have seen it all – from good nurses and doctors to awful ones. Recently, I spent a week as a hospital inpatient for sepsis and blood clots, which reminded me that there are quite a few things people do not always know about staying in the hospital.

Hospital care can be frustrating

For instance, when you are in the hospital, it can be frustrating when you push your call button and ask for something, but you do not see your nurse or nurse's aide for quite some time. Or when you are told the doctor is rounding and will be in soon, but you do not see them for hours. So, I wanted to take the opportunity to share a little insight from the inside.

What to know about your hospitalization, from a nurse's perspective

Here are 5 important things people in the hospital with heart failure or other conditions might not know or may need a reminder about.

Nurses are often overworked

These days, nurses are being given more and more patients, often more than is safe. Depending on the shift, staffing, and the kind of floor you are on, they may have upwards of 8 patients. So, if you are stable and do not have much going on, you may not see them much. It is not that they are ignoring you; they just cannot be in every room at once.

Your pills may not look the same as they do at home

The pills in the hospital usually are not the same color, shape, or size as the ones you take at home. That does not mean you are getting the wrong dose. The hospital probably gets its medication from a different manufacturer, so the pills just look different.

Nurses and doctors are juggling a lot

I know it is frustrating when the doctor never comes at the same time or does not come when the nurse tells you they are right down the hall. This happens because, during rounds, they are not just seeing patients. They are also getting calls, texts, and messages from nurses all over the hospital. If they have a critical change, the provider will stop rounds and go there.

They are also getting those same calls and texts from other providers, patients, their families, social workers, and case managers. All of these can interrupt their flow. Rounds often have to happen around clinic hours, so early morning or afternoon. Also, if you are in a teaching hospital, you need to remember that you may see the medical student, resident, and attending.

Insurance dictates our care

We often forget that insurance dictates so much of our care both inside and outside of the hospital. When in the hospital, insurance can determine your length of stay, how many rehab days you have, and what meds can and cannot be given or paid for.

Getting discharged is more complicated than most people realize

Once you hear that your doctor is discharging you, that does not mean you will be out the door in the next 20 minutes. For one, the doctor may say you are discharged and walk out of the room to do a ton of other tasks but never actually put the order in the computer. Nurses cannot discharge until they have received the order.

If you have more than one doctor seeing you, all of those doctors have to sign off on your discharge. That same nurse, who may have seven or more other patients, is also doing your discharge. If another patient they are working with is not doing well, that will come before your discharge. Lastly, the paperwork might only take 5 minutes to go over with you but can take quite a long time to prepare.

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