How to Survive a Trip to the Hospital
The Intern Who Takes Your History Just Graduated From Medical School
So, you take care of your mind, body, and whatever else is in need of maintenance, and you time your meds by the bleep of the atomic clock and never miss a dose. Good for you. Who would think that going to the hospital for your face-lift or appendectomy or brain transplant could be a threat to all of that hard work and discipline.
Blessedly, few people living with HIV/AIDS need to be hospitalized these days compared to the bad old days. A by-product of this success is that most interns (doctors in training), pharmacists, and nurses who work in hospitals don't have much experience with HIV meds. They may have heard something about "cocktails" and AZT and how easy things are now, but they may not know how drugs are combined or realize the importance of taking every dose on time or that it's not okay to skip one drug out of your combination.
So guess who gets to be the expert? You! Yes, you are a medical expert when it comes to your therapy, and it is up to you to make sure things don't get messed up.
The intern who takes your history just graduated from medical school six months ago and she's really busy and you're only the second person she's seen on HIV meds and it took her a while to enter your orders and the pharmacy is all the way downstairs and they don't know if they have that one med and now it's midnight and you totally fell asleep and didn't get your meds.
So What Can You Do?
Remember to take charge of your meds, don't be afraid to speak up to get them, and enjoy your stay in the hospital. It's the most you will ever pay for bad food.
Jim Schniepp is an HIV specialty pharmacist currently working at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He can be contacted at James_R_Schniepp@rush.edu.
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