Having a friend or loved one in the hospital places them in a vulnerable position. Let's face it if the patient were healthy they wouldn't be in the hospital. It is up to you and your family to be their advocate to make sure they are getting proper patient care and to detect if there are signs of neglect. If you suspect that the patient is not getting proper care, here are a few things you can do and look for to determine whether or not your loved one is a victim of neglect:
- Sniff around: Literally use your nose to help determine signs of neglect. Although hospital smells are not appealing, you will quickly recognize which smells are normal hospital smells and which ones are not. Your sense of smell will help you to quickly determine if your loved one is getting the proper care in being bathed and cleaned regularly. If not it is a sign of patient neglect.
- Look for bedsores: If the patient has bedsores, you'd be right to suspect patient neglect. The staff is not adequately moving your loved one enough to prevent them.
- Examine the linen: If it is soiled and has been that way for an extended period of time, it is another sign of improper patient care.
- Determine if the patient is dehydrated or hungry:. Be careful with this one. If your loved one is refusing food and drink, that is not neglect, however, if they are complaining about hunger and you see that their water pitcher is constantly empty, it could be a sign of patient neglect.
- Talk to the staff: If they are overworked, harried, impatient and generally unhappy, there is a possibility that their workload precludes them from providing adequate patient care.
- Trust your instincts: Too many times people do not take their own instincts seriously. If you have a gut feeling that things aren't going right, more times than not, your gut is correct. Seek help.
A few tips:
- Since visitors inadvertently become patient advocates, coordinate visitation so that the hospital staff and nurses are aware that your loved one has friends/family who care about their well being and are willing to do what it takes to ensure proper patient care.
- If you suspect hospital neglect, speak to the staff. If it has gone beyond the point where speaking to the staff yields results, contact the Consumer Services Department of your state's Attorney General's office.
- For more information visit on reporting suspected patient abuse, visit the Department of Labor website.