Many people have a fear of the hospital. There’s a common saying that goes something like “People go in and then never leave.” That’s true of some people, yes, especially those who go in after sustaining incredibly traumatic injuries. Those people probably would have died even sooner if they hadn’t gone to a hospital. That shouldn’t be read as an indicator that everyone who goes into a hospital is doomed, though. That’s far from the truth. It’s also not true that the hospital is the only way to receive certain medical treatments. More and more people are opting for treatment in the home, and more and more medical offices very happy to provide such a service.
First of all, though, know that there are some conditions that pretty much require a visit to the hospital. If you’ve suffered a head injury, or if you’ve been in a major accident, don’t try to tough it out or walk it off. If you feel like you’re having a stroke or other major medical event, call 911 and get an ambulance. There are some things that aren’t worth hesitating about. The longer you wait, the less doctors can do for you. You hear all the time about people who say, “If I had arrived at the hospital ten minutes later, I would be dead.” It’s definitely true that time is of the essence when there’s a major medical emergency. In that case, you need to go directly to the nearest hospital. No, emergency rooms aren’t exactly fun, but they’re a lot more fun than the alternative.
As far as home care goes, you have a few options. There’s often some confusion about the range of choices. Many people hear the term “palliative care” and think it’s the exact same thing as hospice care, but that’s simply not the case. The main difference? Patients who are receiving palliative care are also still being treated for the underlying disease. They’re still getting what’s known as curative treatments. So someone with cancer would still be receiving treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. Palliative care can happen at any point in the course of the disease. It attempts to improve the quality of life for the patient. The disease does not necessarily have to be life-threatening. Many people with chronic conditions benefit from the aggressive pain management measurements available via palliative care.
Hospice care offers comfort and support to patients who are in their final days and weeks. They provide the patient with some dignity at the end of life. That includes the ability to make choices about the care they receive. You may hear a family member say, “They’re just trying to make him comfortable now” about someone in hospice care, and that is a big part of it, but by no means all of it. It can bring in social workers and spiritual advisers to provide emotional support to the patient as well as their family members. The nurses and medical professionals who are involved in hospice care have a big emotional load to carry, but it can be very rewarding to gain the trust of the patient and their family members.