Think of hospital staff as new friends who play a critical role in your child’s well-being -- who smooth out bumps and delays that plague less savvy parents and patients. Use these tips to reap strategic benefits:
- Ask staffers what they do. It’s hard to tell who’s who based on their outfits -- that impressive gentleman in the tie might be here to fix a broken dialysis machine. If you’re not sure ask. Is the person a resident, intern, doctor, nurse, or nurse’s aide? Any staffers who enter your child’s room should have an ID badge on and say why they’re there. They should also check your child’s ID bracelet to make sure they have the right patient.
- Be extra nice to nurses. They are workhorses, and can make life for you and your child a whole lot easier, whether you need a washcloth, more pain medication, or face time with the doctor. Nurses get the brunt of abuse from angry patients and frustrated family members. Try saying “please,” “thank you,” and “I appreciate your help.” You will be amazed by the attention you get.
- Be there when the nurses change shifts. Nurses generally work 12-hour shifts, and shift changes are often when mistakes get made. Learn who the next nurse on duty is, and relay information about your child. The new nurse should read the previous nurse’s notes, but don’t rely on that. Remember the nurse may have more patients to care for than just your child.
- Know the shortcuts. Get friendly with the resident or intern so you can get quick answers to basic questions. Both should have access to the attending physician and will get back to you with an answer faster than you’d be able to track the attending physician down. Of course, for important questions, ask to see the attending personally.
- If an intern explains test results and you have questions, it’s fine to ask a resident, fellow, or attending physician how they interpret the results. Some findings are very clear, such as “Your test results are normal.” But others may require lengthier discussions, so it’s always okay to ask.
- Start every day nudging. Every morning, your first question for the attending physician or resident should be, “What’s the specific plan for today?” This can subtly prod them to keep things moving. You don’t want to wait five days for tests that can be completed in two.
From The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents by Jennifer Trachtenberg.
Find out more about this book:The Smart Parent's Guide: Getting Your Kids Through Checkups, Illnesses, and Accidents