Before I get to far into this post I want to say two things.
First, if you are one of my doctor/nurse/ancillary staff readers, please feel free to add any other "insider" tips to the comments to be of service to other readers.
Second, when I say, "how to get the BEST medical care" I am NOT saying that we are not trying our best to care for you!! I am just letting you know a few simple ways to allow your doctors & nurses (and everyone else who cares for you) to perform to the best of their abilities. At our best we can treat you more effectively & provide you with care beyond our usual high standard.
I planned to make this a single post at first but there is SO much information to share about how to navigate the hospital system that I'm breaking this up in to FIVE posts. As a side note--I don't particularly like the way this all works, but its the system we currently have & I want you to all get the best out of it!
Here are Tips #1 & #2 to get the BEST medical care during a hospital stay:
Tip #1: Be a teammate: The only information about your history that we know is what you tell us. Be an active participant in your care--this is a team effort. It may not seem that way because since we docs do have definite opinions after spending >12 years in school/training. But this is your body & you need to take responsibility as well.
Ask questions (See below on how to organize these questions to get the MOST data). Understand what is going on and why different tests are being done. ASK the KEY questions I list in TIP #3 (next time). The most important thing is to be prepared, organized & concise (see my points below). Write things down. THIS IS A TEAM EFFORT!!
Tip #2: Be concise & be organized:
The key to all hospital communication is "keep it short."
How can you interact with physicians to get the best care AND get a good understanding of what is going on?:
- Bring the Meds, Allergies & Past Medical History documents I suggest (in tomorrow's post) & have the doc/staff make a copy. Say that all the background information they need is on those sheets.
- If you have time en route to the hospital (& you or your family member is able to do so): jot down a quick timeline of all the events that led to you needing to go to the hospital.
- Example: Monday my stomach started hurting. It was a stabbing pain in the left side of my belly. Tuesday I began to vomit dark material. Wednesday I fell because I was lightheaded and then we came to the hospital
In the hospital:
- Pick ONE spokesperson for the family. This person is the point person for the family & will communicate all information to other family members. Try to have this person be the only one who speaks during conversations with the doc. The spokesperson can be YOU if you are the patient & want to be the one asking the questions.
- Put together a master list of all the questions you & your family have for the doctor. **Make sure you ask the KEY questions I list in tomorrow's post if they are relevant to your situation.**
- After writing out all you can, prioritize them. What do you need to know IMMEDIATELY? What do you need to know eventually? What do you need to know before the patient leaves?
- Then go through the list & edit it again making EACH questions as short as possible.
- If there are questions on there about patient care, ask your nurse (once again briefly) whether you should ask the nurse about these questions or the doctor.
- If there are questions about what happens when you get home, save them for the social worker at first & if he/she doesn't have the answer, ask your doctor the next time you see them.
- Pick the HIGH PRIORITY questions to ask the doctor when they see you in their morning "rounds." Give these questions to your spokesperson (this may be YOU if you are the patient!)
- If you have a complaint, share it after you get the first two key questions done or your entire conversation with the doc will be about that & you will be wasting important data-gathering time.
Important FYI: The doctors will visit all their patients in the morning usually between 6am-10am. These visits are called "rounds" or "rounding." If they are a surgeon it will be earlier. If they are in a teaching hospital, the resident will come in early. If its a community hospital, expect between 8-10am. If a family member wants to ask questions then make sure they are bedside with the patient during these times.
Within a short time period, we docs have to see all our patients & then focus on our sickest ones. Sometimes we have to attend to our sickest folks first, delaying rounding on everyone else. This is the way it works. Maybe someday this will change, but this is how the system runs now.
Do not expect a doc to be able to have a prolonged conversation in the morning.
If you are stable, you may not see the doc again that day. This may seem strange & honestly, its not really our preference (we'd prefer to see patients more often but it just isn't possible with our workload). Just know that we are continuing to monitor you throughout the day and remember that everything is a balance between all our patients.
If your/your family member's condition is serious or the patient is in the ICU or in Rehab, ask for a "family meeting" to be scheduled with the doc to provide a thorough discussion of what is going on with the patient with the whole family present.
Next Post: How To Get The BEST Medical Care: Insider Tips From A Doc! Tips #3 &4: Key Question to Ask the Doctor in the Hospital & Key Things You Need to Know About Yourself!! (Part 2 of 5)
Coming Up AFTER Thanksgiving:
- SuperImmunity Foods for KIDS (Calling All PARENTS!)
- RECIPES & Ideas: Snacks! YUMMY & Portable Plant-Based Snack Food--all sugar-free, gluten-free & without adding oil or fat!!
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