Easing recovery with a diary

Patients don't always remember their hospital stays. For some, the entire visit is a blur, and they're not certain what procedures were performed or what medications they were given.

Recognizing a need to help patients and their loved ones better remember their hospital stays, one of Bristol Regional Medical Center's Shepherd teams developed Your Hospital Diary. This journal can be used as an informative timeline that records what tests, procedures and studies were performed during their time at the hospital. For extended-stay patients, the diary can also serve as a great resource for hospital physicians during their rotations.

One of the first patients to use Your Hospital Diary was a woman who stayed at Bristol Regional for three weeks. A critically injured trauma patient, she required extensive chest wall reconstruction and spent more than 10 days on life support under sedation and on a ventilator, with heavy doses of medication for pain and blood pressure support. Her mother kept the diary and made entries every day, which she later used to answer physician questions.

The patient's mother said, "I would recommend the diary to any patient who will be in the hospital for a long time or any patient who has been through a traumatic experience like my daughter. It helped me see how much she was progressing each day, even if I couldn't necessarily see it from one day to the next."

After she went home, the diary was an important resource for the patient. She was able to read it to find out how long she had been in the hospital, what injuries she sustained, her day-to-day events, equipment and support she required during her stay, as well as names of the hospital staff who delivered her care.

Even though her hospital stay ended, the patient found she still faced a long recovery process. And when she feels uncertain about her healing, the patient said her diary stands as a strong reminder of just how far she has come.