Hospital Admissions

This is a topic that many of us tend to ignore. However the hospitals are filled constantly with people just like us and we should always make plans just in case. The most inconvenient hospitalization is the one that occurs when you suddenly fall ill or have an accident. You don’t have time to make arrangements and you could be caught off guard. I will attempt to tackle some of these issues in a numbered format for easy reading: 1. Always make sure that you carry in your wallet your ID and medical Insurance Card, keep a list of your allergies (including drugs, foods, dyes, latex etc) in your wallet.

In addition, keep a list of medications () prescription and over the counter. Also keep the card of your private physician and keep the name and telephone number of your closest contacts like spouse or parent in your wallet. 2. You must have a decision maker. If you are very, you may have a preference as to who you want to assist in making decisions for you. If you are married, this may be your spouse. Every state has laws on who will speak for you in case you are incapable. This will include spouses, children, parents etc. This is a decision that we should all make. There are many legal documents that arrange this.

Please discuss with your local authorities, lawyers and physicians. This is extremely important for all of us to document this. This way you get to choose who you trust to make rational decisions on your behalf. Young people have accidents too, so nobody is exempt. There are Advanced Directives, Living Wills, and many other different documents. 3. If you have special conditions like diabetes, seizure disorders, specific heart condition, or allergies to common medications like aspirin or penicillin you may want to wear a bracelet or neck chain that have these facts engraved.

There are many such medical alert bracelets available today and they can be trendy. You can also place this information in your wallet. 4. Dispose of medications you no longer take. Make sure that you clearly separate medications you take from those you don’t, so there is no confusion with your family or friends when they check in an emergency; you want to make sure no mistakes are made. 5. Call your private physician as soon as you leave for the ER or in the ER. You must do this immediately. You can also instruct your family or friends to do this.

It is important that you call your private physician yourself. Do not rely on the hospital to call. The Emergency Room physician will call but Emergencies may take priority and the call may not take place. It is your responsibility. This way you are sure that your physician is aware. 6. Try to keep a log in the hospital. Get a note book. Ask each doctor that comes in to write down diagnoses and names of tests, medications and everything else. Ask the doctor to write his name too. This is extremely important.

While you are ill you will not remember a lot of things said to you. This will protect you a lot. This way you and your family stay informed. Any questions that you ask try and get a general description at least in writing. Ask the doctor for their card. 7. Medications. Ask t he nurses for the names of all injections and medications you receive and ask for these to be written down. 8. Decision making—be careful, you are ill and likely on medications and also anxiety and fear that occurs during hospitalization.

If at all possible do not make many decisions by yourself. No matter how educated you are, try to get a trusted family member or friend to discuss matters before you agree to major procedures and tests. It never hurts, if you are not sure you can always call your personal physician. Be vigilant so that you do not sign for tests and procedures that you do not understand or need. 9. Family Meeting—attempt to have a family meeting as soon as you can with the admitting physician or other specialty physicians taking care of you. It is your right to request these meetings.

Always have someone with you if you can so you can make better balanced decisions. Make sure that you and your family have the telephone number of the admitting physician. 10. Ask questions, many questions. Do not be intimidated. It is your health so question everything that you are told. For example sometimes you may be told that you need surgery urgently, always check with family member even if urgent, ask medical staff to call your family and explain what they plan to do. Do not allow rushed procedures. Be careful not to be pressured into signing what you do not understand.

11. It is important that you speak to the surgeon before you have surgery. Always ask for the actual surgeon to speak to you before you are taken to the operating room. Many times people meet their surgeons for the first time in the operating room just before the actual surgery. This is not ideal; you should meet with the surgeon while still in your hospital room in the presence of a trusted family member or friend. If no one is readily available, please have them on the phone. 12. If you need special assistance and you feel uncomfortable speak with your nurse or doctor.

If you are still not satisfied, the hospitals have social workers, patient advocates as well as customer service where you may get additional assistance and support. Finally if it is a stressful situation you can always ask for an Ethics Consult. 13. Before you are discharged, make sure that your insurance will cover the medications you will be taking home. Take advantage of the hospital pharmacy. Most hospitals have outpatient pharmacies because you do not want to go home on medications you cannot afford.

You will have difficulty calling back to the hospital and getting it corrected. Remember, if you are being discharged over the weekend you can always call your outside pharmacy. Most important, get this done before you go home. 14. Second opinions, a very tricky issue, many hospital procedures are very safe but could be risky. You can always request a second opinion. You can do this by informing the physicians. This may seem difficult but you get extra protection. 15. Leaving hospital against medical advice is never safe.

Sometimes you may have a good reason to sign yourself out. You have a right to do this. This will not place you on a blacklist and will not count against you in the future. You may still be readmitted to the same hospital in the future. It is not illegal and it is not a criminal offence. It is risky because it places your life in danger and the hospital does not have the usual safeguards to protect you on discharge. 16. It is preferable you visit you primary doctor within the first 7 days after discharge from a hospital or even after an emergency room visit.

Take all the discharge papers and all the medications with you. This is a major step in your recovery because most hospitalizations need proper follow up for a variety of reasons. 17. Do not return to work after being discharged from hospital without seeing your primary physician. This is particularly important after emergency admissions. There are many follow up tests and checks that you need after a hospital admission. Even if the hospital physician says you can return to work, visit your primary physician first.

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