- Request that the patient is kept clean and comfortable at all times.
- Inform a senior staff member that you will talk to the patient’s own doctor, since he/she is likely to know them better; we will inform you of any advice they offer.
- Ask to be kept informed of any changes in our relative’s condition (day or night) and we will provide you with phone numbers to contact should that be necessary.
- Request that the patient sees and is examined by a doctor specialising in their condition.
- If you become worried about the patient’s progress seek an independent opinion. This may be regarding use of drugs, plans for care or other concerns.
Drugs: used when a patient is placed on the LCP can have a detrimental effect on their overall condition and may affect their ability to recover. Patients may demonstrate symptoms including;
Undue drowsiness: This can be due to a number of factors, but the first thing to check is whether the patient has been given a sedative, or medication such as morphine for any reason. You are entitled to make enquiries about these matters. If sedation or other medication has been given ask
“Why?” Keep on asking until you get an answer .You may need to speak to one of the doctors, and if need be speak to the Consultant. If you are still not happy about the situation, ask for a second medical opinion.
Pain control: If the patient seems to be in discomfort or pain, report this to the nurses and ask them to assess the situation. There may be a simple explanation, such as a need for the toilet, or the need to be turned in the bed, or the need for a drink or some food. Abdominal pain is sometimes due to severe constipation, which can be overlooked and can make the elderly unwell and confused. A urinary infection can also cause discomfort and is a risk for those with catheters. Sometimes patients are given morphine for reasons other than pain. It is also an effective medication to relieve coughing and shortness of breath. If the patient has been prescribed pain medication, check the drugs listed and find out why they have been used.
Some hospitals have been criticised for over using strong pain-killers, given via a syringe driver. This can be dangerous, but is valuable for patients who are terminally-ill whose pain cannot be controlled with simpler medication.