Personal health information must be given directly to any patient who is capable of understanding the information. During critical illness, patients are often unable to understand participate in meaningful discussions and to make their own health care decisions. Their capability can change throughout the patient's hospital stay.
When a patient is unable to interact due to illness or medication, health care information that is relevant to the patient's hospitalization is given to the patient's Substitute Decision Maker (SDM). As soon as a patient is admitted to CCTC, we will ask the patient (whenever possible) or family members to help us to identify the patient's legal SDM(s). The patient or the patient's SDM can authorize other individuals to receive relevant health information if appropriate. Communication and direction from the patient is always the priority.
If you are an SDM or authorized individual, you will receive regular updates about your family member's condition from doctors, nurses and other health professionals. Speak to the nurse who is caring for your family member to obtain an update or to arrange a meeting with a doctor.
If you are the patient's SDM, you will be given a copy of the CCTC Family Guide booklet. Other family members can also download a copy of this booklet. You will also receive a business card with the direct telephone number to the CCTC and the extension to your family member's nurse. SDMs and authorized family members may call in directly to the bedside for updates. Other family members and friends may visit if it is appropriate, but they will need to contact an authorized member of the patient's family for health care information.
Family meetings may be requested by the health care team or by a patient’s family. For example, the team may want to meet to provide an update about a patient’s condition or treatment plan or a family may want to provide additional information about goals of care.
At times, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of information you receive. Do not worry if you have to ask the same questions many times. It is normal to need to hear the same information repeated.