I am flattered and humbled when asked to be a patient safety advocate for someone. I’m good and know I can do the job. Sadly I can’t guarantee someone’s safety, some things have to be left to the people who work in medicine to do the job correctly.
What is even more important is not my sitting at a patients bedside or taking them to the doctor, but making sure they have adequate family (and friends) support.
Have you ever said the words “if there is anything I can do please call”? Well there is something you can do. Offer to come over and make a list of the patient’s medical records, medications and allergies. There is always a place for the person who wants to make a tuna casserole to help out, but there are things that need to be done that often are not even considered.
When your friend tells you that he / she has cancer, needs surgery or has been diagnosed with a new ailment such as diabetes, high blood pressure or multiple sclerosis, grab a marble notebook and pen and write down their thoughts that they share, questions they may have and fears they begin to tell you. These items on paper can become a lifesaver when they are supposed to remember in the doctor’s office what they were thinking 2 weeks ago.
For Thanksgiving or the holidays invite a friend to dinner and say let’s help each other get our medical life in order. Most of us have at least one day off over the holidays, use 2 hours to organize your advanced directives, health care proxy and other important legal papers.
As I help my friend move his grandmother’s belongings following her move to a nursing home, we lift an item and see a name taped to the bottom. "These are the people she wants the item to go to" he tells me. What a considerate woman she must be to think ahead and plan who will get the statue and the vase. But most of us don’t think of talking about our last wishes for ourselves. Many of us don’t want to face it – so do it for a friend and they will do it for you.