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To prevent medical mistakes and delirium, stay on top of care needs when moving from one care facility to another

Medical mistakes in the hospital notoriously happen during changes of shift or because of poor communication among health care staff as they move from one shift to the next. And, when patients move to and from hospital or other health facilities, special care must be taken to assure that prescribed medication continues to be administered as directed, and other health care instructions are properly carried out.

Whether from home or long-term care facility to the hospital or back again, family members or responsible caregivers should bring along medication lists and check these against medicines ordered–even if it’s to the same care facility or nursing home where someone has lived for years. Question any drug changes, and understand why a drug may no longer be listed or why another drug may have been added. Mistakes are made, and often.

You might consider bringing medications along wherever you or the patient you’re caring for goes. An increasing number of medications are special ordered, such as hormones requiring refrigeration or expensive drugs for cancer.

Don’t forget eyeglasses and hearing aids. Of course, in an emergency these may not make the trip to the hospital. But, once hospitalized, these are important for helping to stave off delirium.

Anything one can do to minimize confusion and keep people oriented and tuned into the world around them helps–especially in intensive-care unit settings. Delirium can set in quickly in sick patients. And, for people already with some degree of memory or cognitive impairment, this can seriously complicate recovery and also permanently set back their brain function.

Here’s a checklist to prepare for a hospital stay. And, here’s what to do before you leave the hospital.  

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