When you the nurse admit a patient. Patient belongings are very important issue to address. Some items might need special care.You have to itemize everything that patient brings to the hospital. If a reliable family member is there encourage them to take the items home.Then you must document it in patient belongings Checklist shown below that it was taken home by family member. If there is no proper documentation another family member can come to claim it especially in families where there are squabbles. Please follow your facility policy and procedures on patient belongings. After documentation you (the nurse) will sign and dated,the patient will also sign.
There is a place in the form to enter date on admission and department, after checking all belongings that correspond to what the patient brings in .If there is anything that patient brought that is not in the list,you add it.Then you sign below ,date it ,and patient will sign. Every patient room has closet where you can put the belongings but sometimes the closet might not be big enough to accommodate all belongings. So you leave it in the open close to the patient. So the best option in my perspective is to DISCOURAGE patients from bringing in the personal belongings to the hospital because the hospital will not be liable for missing items.
Patient belongings is what patient brings to the hospital. For example jewelry, money, medications, knife, bra,gowns, suitcases,shoes wheelchair etc.Once you see patient with belongings encourage them to send the belongings home for safety purposes. The reasons are you don’t want them to get lost or get stolen because you will be worried that you will not be able to keep an eye on them. And the patient cannot do so either because they can go for Chest Xray, CT Scan,Surgery, MRI or fall asleep. This is my perspective .
Here is the hospital standard precautions for belongings. The hospital is not responsible for lost ,theft or breakable of personal items which the patient maintains in their possession while in the hospital as a patient. The hospital is clearly saying that patients take risks on their own for their belongings. That is to say that your possession should stay at home not in the hospital. Personal items that are not permitted on treatment units will be placed in the storage or sent home with a designated family member or a friend. COVID19 PANDEMIC is a very difficult time, dangerous and also emotional so limit the items taken to the hospital because this is a challenging time for health care professionals and families. When you go to the hospital with personal belongings. Here are what you need to know.
(1)Intensive Care Unit. Patient belongings doesn’t go to ICU,call family to pick up the items. Put them in “hospital patient belongings bags”, “and put a patient sticker with name on it.And the unit secretary/ Charge nurse will call patient family to pick up,if family members are not around to pick up the belongings. Follow your facility policy and procedures on patient belongings.
(2)Patient Transfer:When a patient is moved to another floor,that is patient is moved from 4North to 2West,patient belongings and Checklist goes to the next floor with proper accurate documentation of the belongings with the patient. The receiving nurse will go through patient belongings and compare it with what is in the Checklist. If it is incorrect, she will call the nurse that transfer the patient to notify her on what was missing. The receiving nurse will document what she receives in the space for Transfer date and put in comments.
(3)Money: If patient brings money to the hospital. This should be counted with another nurse ,documented and call SECURITY, he/ she will come and count the money, place money in a sealed envelope. Provide the nurse with a receipt and that receipt is stapled on patient belongings Checklist.
(4)Pharmacy : Sometimes there are medications that patient are taking but the hospital do not have them( Nonformulary medication) These medications and other medications that patient brings to the hospital should be reconciled and taken to Pharmacy for safe keeping. When patient is discharged inventory should be taken seriously, itemized. And patient medications returned to patient. Do not forget to return medication to patient because patient still needs to be taking the medications after discharge from the hospital.
(5)Patient Discharge:Make sure that patient receives all his/ her belongings. These include medications, any item in the save with security. (money, jewelry)
(6)Forgotten Belongings : If patient forget belongings, it should be properly bagged,dated. Keep in a safe place,Unit director made aware and arrangement made for patient or family members to pick up his belongings. Follow your facility policy and procedures on patient belongings.
7.Terminal Cleaning: Sometimes when a patient dies, the nurse should make sure that patient’s family has all of the belongings.If they did not, whatever the housekeeper finds in the room will be taken to the nursing station,bagged and dated.Family members called for pick up.
(8)Lost and Found: If items were not picked up by patient or patient family, it will be sent to lost and found by nursing administration. Follow your facility policy and procedures.
Even though we (nurses) tell the patients that we are not responsible for their belongings, we panic when patient belongings are missing, we run helter skelter trying to locate it.So it is best to discourage patients from bringing their belongings to the hospital.Occasionally we have caught visitors that steals patient belongings, and nurses belongings.Nobody ever expect a stranger passing by to go into stealing rampage but some of them do.As a nurse if you identify any suspicious person in your department. Someone that looks around like he / she lost something call security . Some visitors took away surgical mask during COVID19 PANDEMIC.
(9)Belongings and Homelessness. Homeless patients have lots of belongings. You can easily identify a homeless person by their numerous belongings and uncleanliness. You still need to count the belongings and document them. The belongings stay in the room with the patient. If they have money it will be sent to save keeping and documented.After documentation help your homeless patient smell fresh by providing shower,hospital gown and food.
(10)Big items such as Wheelchairs, oxygen tank,Front wheel walkers. Put patient name with a sticker on it.Wheelchairs are never enough in the hospitals because of thefts. Hospital without a” safeguarded wheelchairs “are easily stolen all the time by some patient families or friends. So when a patient is discharged to go home, nursing assistant from any unit looking for hospital wheelchair and cannot find one,can easily remove the wheelchair if Patient Name and Room Number is not on the wheelchair to show that it is “private wheelchair ” that does not belong to the hospital.
Please follow up with your facility policy and procedures. This is my observation from so many hospitals. The problems are generalized.