Mesothelioma surgery, whether involving partial removal or (pleurectomy decortication) entire removal of the affected lining (pleurectomy decortication) of the lungs, remains one of the current treatment options for mesothelioma. That means coping with a hospital stay for mesothelioma patients – and their families.
Recovering from mesothelioma surgery doesn’t make it any easier to decipher what’s going on at the hospital. But your well-being depends on doing just that. Being prepared ahead of time can help.
Before You Go to the Hospital:
1. Review Hospital Ratings. Read up on hospital reviews and use them to pinpoint the best hospital in your area. Find out how other patients described their experience: Did the doctors and nurses communicate well, was pain well controlled, where the rooms quiet and clean? Even if you don’t have a choice in hospitals, ratings can help prepare you for problems you might encounter. Here’s Consumer Reports hospital ratings
2. Get briefed. Make an appointment with your doctor before your hospital admission to discuss medications and supplements you should start or stop, dietary changes you should make, and what pre-admission tests you need. Also ask about medication and procedures you can expect and how long you might have to stay.
3. Make Med Lists. Write up and print lists of the prescription and over-the-counter drugs you take. Bring multiple copies with you to the hospital so doctors and pharmacists can check for interactions or duplicates with medication.
4. Schedule surgery for well-staffed times, if possible. Hospital staffing can be lower on weekends and at night. So ask if you can have your surgery on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday morning. That way staffing will be at full capacity during surgery and your immediate postoperative hours, when you’ll need the most care.
5. Designate an advocate. Before your hospital admission for mesothelioma surgery, ask a friend or family member to help monitor your care. This person should be willing to advocate for your needs and preferences, ask questions, record the answers and keep copies of key medical documents. Ideally, your companion should help you during check-in and discharge, and visit daily, especially in the evening and on weekends and holidays.
6. Have a POLST and Advanced Care Directive handy. These legally clarify your preferences for medical intervention if you become incapacitated. They can specify that you don’t want overly aggressive or prolonged care, for example. Make sure the admitting doctor, the hospital and your designated advocate have copies.
7. Pack a bag. Bring some comfort items: a music player and earbuds; a comfy pillow, blanket, or robe; a photo or two. Such items offer reassurance and can make you more of a real person to staff. But leave valuables at home.