Why Can’t the Caregiver Info that Really Matters Be Part of “Discharge Instructions” ?

Kristen Ayers, Director of Marketing, nVoq Healthcare Leave a Comment

My Real World Experience

On a bright, summer morning in Colorado, my husband, Bryant, took an awkward fall off his horse and landed at my feet. We knew the ground was like rock and my husband landed hard, but we did not expect the diagnosis of a broken hip.

After a few hours of ER care and a hospital transfer, my husband was taken to surgery to pin his hip back together. He had been transferred to a well-renowned regional Orthopedic hospital with a top-rated surgeon. During his initial recovery, there seemed to be a constant stream of knowledgeable, caring nurses flowing in and out of his room, making sure he got the best of care.

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Kristen Ayers, Director of Marketing, nVoq

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After a few days, Bryant was released to come home. I am not a natural caregiver and having never been a mother, I felt a sharp anxiety slowly building inside. As the nurses wheeled him down to our vehicle, I was mentally calculating how much I would have to bribe one of them to get in our vehicle and come home with us!

We were handed an envelope with “Discharge Instructions” written in bright red on the outside. I clutched that envelope and hoped it would have all the answers on how to keep Bryant alive for the next few weeks. On the long drive home, I realized just how important those instructions would be. Bryant came in and out of a deep sleep and was concerned about his oxygen not lasting. He could remember only bits of conversations and was not even sure why he had received oxygen in the first place. Our collective anxiety level kept increasing so I could not wait to go home and read every word of those discharge instructions.

As soon as I got Bryant settled at home, I went back to my envelope with what I thought would be all the answers. But none of these instructions were for me! Instead, the verbiage was geared towards Bryant’s primary physician. Complicated terms were used to describe the surgery. There was a note to follow up with his primary and that was really the only instructions for his caregiver.
I felt very lost and alone as I really had no idea what I was doing. I needed practical advice from the nurses who had taken such great care of Bryant. His memories of conversations were fuzzy and disjointed. Those discharge instructions didn’t answer questions like: Was it okay to give him Benadryl for the rash on his back? How many tanks of oxygen did we really need? What was he looking for when he asked for that “breathing thing”? Why was he waking at 3 AM in severe pain? What should I do to manage that pain?

If Bryant’s caregivers at the hospital, especially the nurses, had been able to capture their notes using dictation, I think my anxiety could have been greatly reduced. With the benefit of the nurses dictating their care routines and providing that information in written form within Bryant’s discharge instructions, I could have been a better caregiver. For example, I would have known much sooner that the oxygen was for the onset of pneumonia that came about during surgery. Those important details over the first few days would have made Bryant more comfortable, me more confident, and expedited his healing.

Fortunately, my husband is now on the road to recovery. But so much of the anxiety and stress we both experienced in his first days at home could have been avoided with better communication.

SayIt from nVoq provides a convenient, portable and accurate way for nurses to convey important details while still providing their extraordinary bedside care. That information, as in my experience, can be invaluable for the home caregiver and for the patient.

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