How to survive a hospital visit

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a class on how to survive a hospital visit being held by OLLI at Granite State College so I decided to attend and see what it was all about. The class was conducted by John Werner. John has over 35 years in organizational improvement for industries including pharmaceuticals, hospitals and health care delivery providers and served as a Baldridge Award Examiner.

Stats taken from Death by Medicine:

  • 783,936 deaths each year caused by conventional medicine
  • 2.2 million people per year are having in-hospital, adverse reactions to prescribed drugs
  • 20 million unnecessary antibiotics are prescribed annually for viral infections
  • 7.5 million unnecessary medical and surgical procedures are performed each year
  • 8.9 million people per year are hospitalized unnecessarily

Did you know:

  • US ranks 11 of the top 11 industrialized countries on health care, quality and access. US is last, and the UK is number 1.
  • US may be last, but it is the most expensive. We spend the most money to get the worst medical care.
  • Top 1% of 825,000 individual medical providers account for 14% of $77B in medicare billing in 2015
  • 40,000 people die each year after suffering medical errors in hospitals
  • hospital errors are the third leading cause of death in the US
  • Medical errors account for more than half of the deaths for all reasons in the US each year
  • Hospital infections kill 75,000 patients each year

Interesting questions:

  • Should hospitals have signs in their lobby and on website stating death rate due to errors?
  • How many germs are transferred through the use of smart phones by the various providers as that phone moves from place to place in the hospital with its owner?

Bottom line:

  • Get a second opinion if you have any issues with initial diagnosis
  • Do your homework before you go
  • Experience in your specific surgery counts. How many have they done? What is the success rate? What are the chances for infection? What are the odds of dying?
  • Check out the safety and quality information on your hospital’s website (labeling for instance: right patient, right surgery, right body part, right blood type, right allergy information)
  • Take an advocate (family member or friend) with you
  • Don’t let anyone touch you unless you watched them wash their hands or use hand sanitizer

On-line resources:

Recommended reading: Being Mortal

If you want a copy of his slides which are in PDF format, drop me an email and I’ll send them to you.

I could pontificate here and bring the word count up, but I think you get the depressing picture,

We really need to pay attention because no one is going to protect us from these problems except us. Stand up, speak out, ask questions and don’t worry about whether they like it or not.

Now, I’ve got to grab some chocolate after going over this again. It’s too early for wine and I’ve got to go shovel snow – two small snow storms in two days. 🙂

About Judy@NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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36 Responses to How to survive a hospital visit

  1. ahiggins2013 says:

    Thanks for posting this! I recently read BEING MORTAL and have been recommending it , too. Last summer when I was in the hospital I refused to have a procedure that the hospital doctor wanted to do. They looked at me as though I were an old crank, but I was right: I didn’t need it. I got well without it.
    Best wishes from Anne

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The lesson here is don’t get sick! Sorry to rush off, gotta go take a vitamin now.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Laurie Graves says:


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Murphy's Law says:

    Great post Judy. I was hoping you would attend this class. Scary stuff. Once upon a time we would’ve called it “science fiction”. Today it’s called “reality”.

    Last summer there was a piece about this on a news broadcast. They also warned that ties, stethoscopes and lab coats carry horrific germs from patient to patient. Did you ever think about that? I didn’t! But I damn well do now!!

    So somehow we all need to be more vigilant when we have occasion to be in our doctors office or when we’re in a hospital as an in-patient/out-patient….and yet not be paranoid!!! Hmmmm, that one may take some wine. Hey! It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! Care to join me?!! 🍷🍷

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, all that stuff that they wear and use going from room to room, patient to patient. It is ghastly to even think about. Now, the cell phones get added in to the mix. Yuk. I guess we know for sure why they prescribe a week’s worth of antibiotics to take ‘before’ you arrive at the hospital. Nasty stuff. Vigilant is a good word. And, heck yes, it is 5 o’clock somewhere, and I did my shoveling. 🍷


  5. Joyce says:

    What a mess. I believe every word of it. My RN daughter can also add “negligence due to overworked nurses on 12 hour shifts” to the mix. They were supposed to have 5 patients each on a post-surgical floor. She’d end up with 8 or more. Don’t be sick in July. That’s when the new crop of inexperienced MDs come in. They would call Christy and ask her what to prescribe a heart patient! God help us all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Please thank your daughter for her service to her patients. 🙂 One of his slides showed that a nurse can only spend about two hours of her shift with the patients because of all the other stuff she has to deal with and walks miles per day because of the way the hospital is arranged. Sad state of affairs for all of us. :-).


  6. sue says:

    Started to respond to original post, realized I was ranting! Anyway, retired nurse here with granddaughter currently working hospital as LPN while she finishes RN work. Definitely, advocate someone assertive not belligerent or confrontational. But someone who can ask and not be put off if they’re being blown off. Joyce is right about staffing. Overload leads to med errors, burn out, all kinds of mistakes. If you complain or refuse you get a guilt trip, sometimes from your own co-workers! And sometimes it’s older docs asking ” if you were a doctor what would you do?” Best answer I ever heard was from a nurse who had resigned and was working her last week. Said she ” first thing.I’d fire you” Ask about meds, what, why. Last thing…I promise. As a patient if you have staff who come in with perfume, aftershave, garlic breath, long loose hair hanging in your face etc ask for unit supervisor. I had a nausea problem after a surgery and these things set it off. Supervisor spoke to me later and thanked me as she said it was one of those things they had not looked at from patients perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for this informative reply, Sue. Thank you also for your service to patients over the years and to your granddaughter. 🙂 I love your friend’s reply, and I think the real message is to not go meekly and speak up and question things in a respectful manner. We had a dear friend who had dealt with heart issues his whole life. He was around 75, working full time, traveling with his wife – enjoying life. He started to have major heart issues, was hospitalized, and was advised to have a multitude of tests and procedures. He asked if when he did all that would he walk out of the hospital and return to his life. The answer was ‘no.’ This brave man then said ‘no’ and spent the next two weeks in hospice and departed this earth on his own terms. I don’t know if I’m that brave, I hope so. But, at the very least I carry a notebook with me, do on-line research, have questions and note answers so I can make the best decision I can at the time. Thank you again for commenting. 🙂


  7. Dan Antion says:

    Yikes! Those stats are not surprising, but the magnitude certainly is. Thanks for sharing this one Judy.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Eliza Waters says:

    Scary and somewhat depressing stats. Our healthcare system could learn a thing or two from the UK and others it seems. We’re past due for an overhaul. I’ve read Being Mortal and found it most informative. So many people are woefully under-informed and ill-prepared for the inevitable. Wills and health care proxies are just the start. Thanks for posting this, Judy!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. sue says:

    Advocate..sometimes outside the family is better. I’ve done it for friends.
    Close family sometimes are so relieved / devastated by info they don’t ask questions that need answers or clarification.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. joey says:

    Scary and depressing indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have been in and out of the hospital so many times in the past 12 years I can’t remember all of it. Considering how many times I was given medication to which I was allergic … the wrong diet … stopped breathing because of overdoses of narcotics (which I asked them NOT to give me) …

    Mostly, I’m glad I’m still here to complain about it. Almost all the problems were caused by underpaid, uninterested personnel … or exhausted staff who had nothing left to give. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry this depressing topic is something you have first hand knowledge about, but thank you for commenting. Having worked in HR for many years and seeing the effects of long hours, low pay, inferior benefits, work conflicts, etc. I think the medical profession deals with the same stressors and responds accordingly. The only problem is someone may die when they’re having a bad day.


  12. Nadezda says:

    Judy, I completely agree with the last words of Marilyn Armstrong, underpaid, uninterested.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. WOW, Judy…great post and thank you for sharing. We were just having this conversation with a friend who was heading to the hospital for a fairly common procedure…our first response ” do you have someone to go with you, an advocate”? So very important to be in the driver seat with regard to your health and well being…….and stay as healthy as you can!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You got the two basic points: stay as healthy as you can and then retain the steering wheel for the outing. In the old days, you blindly followed but today you need to question each step.


      • Can’t tell you how many times my mum comes home from a visit ti the doctors and when I ask her questions she either says ” I can’t quite remember” or ” he just told me I should do this”. Hardly ever any understanding as to why he told her these things…and she is a very smart woman but , exactly as you say, part of that generation that doesn’t question the medical world. Very frustrating! When my dad was sick I insisted that she put me on the list of people who could request information from his doctors. Thank you again, Judy for posting ( and taking the class!!) info on this very important topic. Very wise, you are!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. KerryCan says:

    It’s funny–I joined a small sewing group a few months ago, a subset of my quilt guild, and most of the members are retired nurses. They all talk about how no one in the sewing circle goes to the doctor for anything serious without another one of them coming along. I thought that sounded kind and thoughtful but now I realize how critical it could be! Thanks for the depressing but very helpful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Lorrie says:

    My husband is a health care leader in our province and just read Being Mortal. He recommends that I read it, too. It’s so true that we must advocate for ourselves and for our loved ones in this day and age.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Grandma Kc says:

    WOW! Those are some interesting and scary statistics. When my husband had his stroke (unfortunately on a holiday) I was amazed at how indifferent most of the staff was. They had him hooked up to monitors and he was constantly disconnecting the leads and the alarms would go off and nothing would happen. No one came to see what was going on — it would only be after I went and got someone to shut them off that they would bother to come check. So many other things but I will get off my soapbox. It is truly to bad you need to take a class like that but you were wise to do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. pagedogs says:

    It looks as if my tongue-in-cheek advice on your previous post wasn’t so far off the mark. I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals and rehab facilities over the past years with my 92-year old mother, who first had a stroke, and, more recently, broke her hip. We had family members there most of the time to advocate for her but most patients–especially the elderly–had no one at all. It was very sad on many levels.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Judy, sadly, the stats in Australia are not much different : ( I’ve been in nursing homes frequently when my Mum had dementia and have seen perfectly ‘fit’ women that had gone there for respite only to end up dead within a couple of months due to ‘medication complication’. I stay away as much as possible from doctors and chose to spend my money on good healthy food as a preventative. So far, neither Mr Oz or myself are on any medication at all. God willing we stay this way. for a long time. Well worth bringing the subject up in the open. Thank you : )

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I have some familiarity with this because our union does some work with hospital RNs. Also I am thinking of switching doctors because my current one sent me to get some major invasive procedures that weren’t called for based on my symptoms.

    Liked by 1 person

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