Hospitals have their own cultures. Like casinos, there is no day or night as staff continuously arrive at a patient’s side with thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, needles, and orders to move a patient. Such intrusions can bring out the curmudgeon self in the best of us.
When I was in a hospital years ago for my first hip replacement, I was amazed by the behavior of some patients. They were rude, demanding, entitled, and loud. I thought, who would want to treat them? Of course, that is the problem right there. Curmudgeon behavior is counterproductive. Common sense suggests that if you treat the staff well, they will care more about you. Your job is to get well; boorish behavior works against that goal.
Seriously ill people can’t be proactive and strategic in their roles as patients, but most of us can help our cause and leave feeling satisfied with our hospital stays. So, what should one do? The answer is not complicated.
- Give positive feedback.
- Be polite.
- Keep complaints to a minimum.
- Know the names of your caregivers.
- Use humor when you can ( I had a nurse who kept taking blood and I ended up calling her the Vampire Nurse. We shared a lot of laughs).
- Ask questions. Accurate information can take the edge off a bad mood. It is easier to tolerate a procedure if you understand why it is done.
- Have an advocate who can help you if you can’t get the necessary information.
- Nowadays, most hospitals send surveys about a patient’s experience. Fill them out. Several times I have written letters to hospitals with specifics about positive experiences. Yes, the staff gets paid, but who doesn’t like to hear a positive comment?
Patienthood is an opportunity for creative expression. Doing it right can turn a potentially scary, unpleasant situation into one of mastery and accomplishment.