Most patients who check themselves into the Emergency Room of a hospital, any hospital, are doing so with the hope that the doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel will help them get better. However, there are many ways in which people can leave hospitals in worse shape than they arrived. It’s important to know your rights and follow some guidelines that will help ensure a safe and speedy stay.
Before going to the Emergency Room, evaluate whether it is absolutely necessary. Is the malady something that should be seen by a PCP? Does it constitute a true emergency? If you’re going to the hospital because your PCP, or primary care physician, is not open at the moment or is too expensive, turn around. The emergency room is meant for true emergencies. A trip to the emergency room can take hours, and takes a huge toll on the nation’s finances, even if the patient personally won’t be affected. Going to the right health care professional will ensure proper care, in a proper setting.
Have a Patient Advocate
Never go to the hospital alone if you can help it. Bring along a close family member or friend who speaks the language, is intelligent, and isn’t afraid to speak up. They will be a second set of eyes and ears, and they can speak for you if you are unable to.
Unlike your PCP, the hospital does not have access to your medical records. Bring along any paperwork you have in reference to the current condition, as well as pill bottles or any medications you are currently taking. This aspect is vital, because different medications and treatments can be contraindicative.
Ask About Tests and Treatments
During the course of a hospital stay a multitude of nurses and doctors parade in and out of rooms, taking blood tests, ordering more tests, and prescribing treatments. Ask about everything, what are they testing for in the blood, and what are they looking for in the CT scan. When a treatment is recommended ask about side effects and alternatives, as well as the treatment is really necessary, before signing on the dotted line.
Keep a Paper Trail
Ask for documentation about everything, and keep it organized in one place. Having a complete and accurate medical history is invaluable, it can help medical personnel with future decisions, and it can help prevent errors or the performing of duplicate tests. It’s a simple thing for a nurse to print out the results of your test, and it is something that can come in handy later.
One of the leading causes of extended hospital stays is infection that was caught in the hospital. It is the patient’s job to be vigilant that nurses and anyone who comes into contact with you washes their hands well and practices good hygiene. Even Dickies nursing scrubs can be a source of infection; be sure that nurses aren’t touching their scrubs while treating you.