8 Health Mistakes Nurses Warn Their Friends About
Memorize these tips before your next doctor's appointment.
Shoot the breeze at your own risk
"Don't talk to nurses when we're giving medicine unless you
have questions about it. You have a right to know what you are taking
and why, but chit-chat distracts nurses and can lead to medical errors."
—Jennifer Schmid, RN, Founder of Oasis Wellness in Santa Clara, California
Press your doc for 3 key tests
"Ask to check your levels for vitamin B,
vitamin D, and
magnesium. Doctors don’t always do this routinely, but they should. Low magnesium
levels can affect sleep, particularly during perimenopause and menopause;
sometimes you may need to take 400 mg of magnesium at night. Many of us
are also lacking in B vitamins due to our diets and the stress we encounter,
so you may need a daily vitamin B complex, as well as a vitamin D supplement."
—Renee McInnes, RN, VP of Business Development for Norwell Visiting
Nurse Association and Hospice in Norwell, Massachusetts
Be empowered...in a nice way
"Avoid using 'What are you doing?' type questions, and instead
ask more specific ones, such as 'Can you tell me how this medicine
works?' or 'Is there anything that is important to look out for?'
Questions that are blunt put both physicians and nurses on the spot and
they may become defensive if they suspect you think they are not doing
a good job."
—Mary Kate Grady, RN, at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital (PIH
Health) in Whittier, California
"Make sure you see the doctor or nurse open the Botox vial and dilute
it in front of you. If that does not happen ask, 'When was this vial
reconstituted?' Once reconstituted, Botox has a very limited life
and will not be as effective if it is not fresh. Also ask, 'How many
units of Botox am I getting?' Usually it should be in the range of
20-60 units depending on the areas treated and severity of lines. It can
be easy and common to get ripped off with Botox. If you pay by the area
instead of the unit, you have no way to know if your provider over-diluted
the product, in which case you get worse results than you paid for. If
they are diluting it correctly, they won't mind the questions."
—Cary Christensen Deuber, CRNFA (certified registered nurse first
assistant) in a plastic surgery office and star of
The Real Housewives of Dallas
Do these two things to avoid Rx mistakes
"Ask your doctor to file an electronic script rather than give you
a handwritten form; this has been shown to cut down on drug errors when
filling prescriptions. You should also
double check the medication and dosage of the script before leaving with the physician or nurse."
—Jennifer Betts, NP, in Los Angeles
Know exactly what you're on
"Bring your prescription list with you to every doctor appointment.
I like to keep a picture of the label on my phone just in case—this
also helps when needing to reorder."
—Linda Poth, RN, in St. Louis
Vet the surgeon
and the hospital
"Before scheduling surgery, ask what your physician’s outcomes
are like. Also find out what the hospital’s outcomes are like, and
the rehospitalization and infection rates. Ask if your hospital has joint
commission accreditation, indicating a high standard of care, and
Magnet designation, which is the gold standard for nursing excellence. Secondly, if you or
a family member is hospitalized, don’t hesitate to ask if members
of your healthcare team have washed their hands! Some studies show less
than 30% of healthcare workers in the ICU of a hospital do, but this is
essential in avoiding the spread of infection, including potentially antibiotic-resistant
—Sue Henke, RN, with St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California
"Bring a notebook with you to each doctor’s visit. When the
physician or nurse gives you information or instructions, repeat exactly
what you heard to verify that you understood. You might feel silly, but
even small misunderstandings can have devastating effects when a person’s
health is at stake."
—Elena Capella, RN, Professor of Nursing at the University of San Francisco