The Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health recognizes National Healthcare Decisions Day today, April 16, offering tips to prepare for a hospital admission, especially during these sensitive times.
Trips to the hospital often happen in a rush, so why not plan ahead? Expectant mothers keep a bag ready for their anticipated hospital stay, because they know sooner or later, they’ll need it. Even though we may not know when we’ll be admitted to the hospital — or why — the rest of us could do well to follow their lead. Just in case.
Make sure not only you, but also designated family, friends or neighbors, know where the “in case of emergency” bag is located. The following tips provide guidance to prepare you and your loved ones in the event of a hospital admission:
First, everyone over the 18 should have an Advance Care Plan (Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will) that details your wishes should you be faced with a life-threatening illness. Don’t have these yet? Call a Certified Elder Law Attorney, or create the documents yourself online. The Conversation Project is a great place to start.
Have the following packed and ready to go at any time:
- A copy of your legal documents (Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will)
- A current copy of your insurance cards and picture ID
Include a List of:
- current medications, both over the counter and prescribed (include dosage and instructions)
- drug allergies
- medical and surgical history
- important phone numbers (doctors, key family and friends, clergy)
- Helpful information can be found on the After Visit Summary provided at the end of each neurology appointment at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Put the most recent one in the bag. This document represents our most recent recap of an individual’s treatment plan, medications, and vital signs. Consider adding any notes that might be helpful to a medical professional who doesn’t know the patient.
Before You Leave
As you’re leaving for the hospital, add the following to your bag:
- Cell phone and charger
- A familiar object from home, such as a favorite pillow or blanket
- Pictures of people important to the individual
- A book, puzzles or magazines, tablet, e-reader, or any technology to stay busy and happy
- A journal or blank paper and a pen with which to take notes
- If the bag is for someone else, consider adding some encouraging notes: “Love you! You aren’t alone! We’re all in this together!”
Arriving at the Hospital
Once a patient is admitted, the hospital staff is in charge of their care, which means medications Cleveland Clinic has been managing may be changed by the hospital staff. We know that hospitalization and surgery can have an effect on anyone’s functioning, especially an older person or someone with a chronic illness, such as dementia.
Notify hospital staff who the healthcare decision maker is for the person being admitted, and whether you want the hospital’s staff to talk with the team at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
While these tips can apply to any hospital admission, during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, most hospitals are refusing to admit visitors. The result? The admitted patient will be alone. All support — from simple words of encouragement to important documents — will most likely need to be provided remotely via the use of technology.
It’s more important now than ever to have that bag packed and handy!