What’s THE Best Gift for Someone in the Hospital?

No doubt, you’ve heard about hospital infections.  Patients can pick up a “superbug” that lurks on every hospital surface.  The #1 way to prevent a hospital staph infection is hand-washing, yet soap dispensers are usually hung on a wall — far out of reach for patients!  

So… bring on the Purell! (Or any other brand you trust.) When patients have their own soap on hand, their hands will be safer. And, if a doctor, nurse or anyone else forgets to wash before touching them, a personal stash of Purell will be at their fingertips to share.  

Don’t forget to bring CampaignZERO’s checklists to prevent infections, too!

Patients Forget Most of What Their Doctors Say — But There’s an App for That!

When we’re under the weather, our minds and memories simply don’t operate at 100%. Fortunately, we have smart phones and smart apps to help us “fill in the blanks.” For every doctor’s appointment, ask your doctor’s permission to record your conversation so you won’t miss a detail.

Listen later, as often as you like. Just hit “Send” to share the recording with your loved ones who want to know how you are doing.

Don’t forget!

5 Tips for Staying Safe in the Hospital: A Checklist

“It would be ideal to have Dr. Marcus Welby looking in on you and coordinating everything, and giving you a big reassuring smile but that’s not the reality right now,” said Karen Curtiss, CampaignZERO Founder, who wrote a handbook about managing the care of a hospitalized relative, based on her own experiences ( “Safe & Sound in the Hospital” available through CampaignZERO.com).

Curtiss points out that the patient has a right to know the name and position of the physician who is overseeing their hospital care. All care providers should introduce themselves when they come into the room; if they don’t, remind them.

Will You Be Able to Help Your College-Age Child in a Medical Emergency?


Unless you have 2 legal documents signed by your child, medical providers have to treat you like a stranger — and that’s the law. 

Upon age 18, everyone becomes responsible for their own medical decisions unless they give consent for others to be informed or involved in their care. Verbal consent works.. but what if your adult child is knocked unconscious…or worse?

Even in the most serious circumstances, doctors and nurses can’t share health care information with you — not even. It’s truly a worst-case scenario for everyone. But there’s a solution!

Download free Medical Power of Attorney and HIPAA Release forms from any reputable online source in the state where your adult child goes to school. After your child signs them, make copies for the health care office at your child’s school, for your child and yourself.

Then, let’s hope and pray you never need them

When a Medical Error is Not

Gary is a tall, lanky 50-something guy whose stooped posture now betrays pain and significant muscle deterioration.  He has the walk and energy level of a 90-year old and, despite weekly therapy prescribed by an orthopedic specialist, his body seemed to be aging by the minute.

Fortunately for Gary, his wife spoke up to her neurologist at one of her own recent appointments and described his condition. Amazingly, the neurologist offered a diagnosis on the spot that turned out to be ‘spot on’! Gary switched doctors and has every reason to hope for full recovery of his old athletic self.

Gary shared this experience with my husband, calling his first doctor’s failure diagnose his back pain correctly a “medical error”.  A year or so ago I would have agreed, but I think differently now that I’ve read a terrific book by Jerome Groopman, How Doctors Think.  Groopman describes how doctors form their professional judgments – exactly how all of us form our ideas about things.

All of us have life experiences that shape how we perceive and analyze information. Whether we realize it or not, we are chock full of filters – some would call them biases. For the most part, they tend to serve us well. How else could we sort through the information overload we seem to manage on a daily basis?

Doctors tend to filter patients’ information in the same way.  They hear or see a set of symptoms and their minds immediately sort through past history with the same symptoms to come up with a solution or cure.

In Gary’s case, he saw an orthopedic doctor who saw his symptoms through the prism of his own experience with the bones and muscle of the back.  His wife’s neurologist analyzed the same set of symptoms through the prism of his specialty – the nervous system that runs through the back.  I don’t believe the first doctor made a mistake – he just did not have exactly the right filter for Gary’s problem.

So what’s the moral of this story?  Trust yourself, trust your body.  If you’re not getting better under one doctor’s care, get another doctor’s brain on your case.  Get a third or fourth opinion if necessary.  Don’t stop until it feels like you have the right doctor for you with the right solution you need.