Excerpt from the
Handbook on the Late Effects of Poliomyelitis for Physicians and Survivors©
Being in the hospital can be a frightening experience for anyone. For polio survivors, planning in advance for hospitalizations and unforeseen emergencies is especially important.
A person who has lived with a significant disability for a long time is frequently the most qualified in managing his/her own needs for functioning and general day-to-day care. Hospital personnel should respect this expertise and be flexible and creative in adapting their medical procedures and skills to accommodate these needs. For example, survivors may present a list of medications to avoid or request use of their home mechanical ventilation equipment.
Maximizing an individual's safety and comfort during a hospital stay is essential. To be prepared, discuss hospital arrangements with a primary care physician and/or a treating specialist prior to admittance and preferably when the polio survivor is well. Issues to consider include:
- Specifying an individual who can act as an advocate when one cannot advocate for oneself.
- Allowing attendants or family members, if they choose, to continue their routine care during hospitalizations. This may also require that they stay in the same room.
- Informing staff of the individual's functional limitations due to prior polio along with instructions as to how one routinely functions, e.g., uses night-time ventilation; can walk only with a brace; cannot lie on right side, etc. Request that this information be inserted in the hospital chart.
- Scheduling a face-to-face discussion with the anesthesiologist several days prior to any surgery (see Anesthesia).
- Remobilizing, in the customary way, as soon as possible to curtail disuse weakness.